Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Center for Autoimmune Neurology

Patient Care


Description of Services

The Center for Autoimmune Neurology provides care for patients at various stages of disease.  This includes:

Inpatient care:  Patients that are acutely ill may be admitted or transferred to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for diagnosis, treatment, and continued care. 

Outpatient care:  Adult patients at all stages of disease are welcome to set up an appointment in our outpatient clinic.  We offer consultations, second opinions, and follow-up care. 

Antibody Testing:  The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) lab offers CLIA certified antibody testing.  The Autoimmune Encephalitis Panel can be performed on CSF and includes antibody tests for NMDAR, AMPAR, GABAb, LGI1, CASPR2, GAD65.  A single NMDAR antibody test can also be ordered on CSF or serum. To set up an account and order this panel, please contact the HUP Lab at 1-800-PennLab.  Additionally, our research lab can follow up these commercial tests with research-based studies for additional and even novel antigens.  For more information out our research based testing, click here


Diseases of Focus

Anti-NMDAR Encephalitis is an autoimmune condition in which patients make antibodies that attack an important brain protein, the NMDAR.  The antibodies affect the NMDAR, disrupting communication between the nerve cells and the brain.  Patients may have behavioral changes, hallucinations, memory problems, seizures, and coma. 

Autoimmune Encephalitis can also be caused by antibodies to other brain proteins, not just the NMDAR.  Our group has found specific autoimmune disorders characterized by synaptic autoantibodies targeting a growing family of important brain targets (LGI1, CASPR2, AMPAR, GABA-A, GABA-B, etc.).

Paraneoplastic Disorders are autoimmune neurological problems that may sometimes be triggered by cancer.  There is a family of these disorders, each associated with different neurological problems and varying risks of cancers.  Some common paraneoplastic disorders are caused by antibodies to Hu, Yo, Ma, Ta, etc.

Stiff Person Syndrome is an autoimmune disease affecting the spinal cord.  Patients have abnormal muscle stiffness, muscle spasms, and cramps.  Some patients may also have a exaggerated startle response.  Several different types of antibodies are associated with this disease including GAD65, amphiphysin and glycine receptor. 


Additional Information

Transfers must be handled through the patient's treating physician, information for physicians about this process is available through the Penn Transfer Center

New patients should call 215-662-3606 to register and request an appointment.  We require patients to send medical records prior to scheduling, these records should include a cover sheet with contact information, recent neurology clinic notes, MRI/EEG/EMG reports, and antibody test results.  They can be sent to Dr. Lancaster via Fax (215-349-5579) or Mail (3400 Spruce Street; 3 W. Gates Building, Neurology; Philadelphia, PA 19104)

Outpatient Clinic is located in the Perelman Center for Advance Medicine, 2nd Floor of the South Tower

Related Diseases Covered by Other Neurologists

Neuromuscular: myasthenia gravis, inflammatory myopathy (polymyositis, dermatomyositis), and autoimmune neuropathy (guillain-barré syndrome, CIDP, multifocal motor neuropathy)

Multiple Sclerosis:  MS and related conditions such as Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO)

Neuro-Ophthalmology:  optic neuritis and related autoimmune disorders affecting the eye