Brian J. Wainger, M.D., Ph.D.

Brian J. Wainger, M.D., Ph.D.

Massachusetts General Hospital
Harvard Medical School
Brian J. Wainger, M.D., Ph.D.

The Wainger Lab focuses on how abnormalities of motor and sensory neuron physiology contribute to diseases such as ALS and chronic pain.

The aim of the Wainger Laboratory is to ask clinically relevant research questions that could lead to rapid translation and innovation for treating diseases of the motor and sensory nervous systems. Their approach fuses electrophysiology and stem cell biology.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a devastating neurological disease of the motor nervous system. Within a few short years, its victims fall from good health—often in the prime of life—and ultimately perish due to progressive motor neuron deterioration. ALS is surprisingly common: people have a lifetime risk of about 1 in 400. 

Prior investigation led by Brian Wainger, M.D., Ph.D. has identified abnormalities in the electrical activity of motor neurons derived from ALS patients using stem cell technology. The research culminated in the discovery of the FDA-approved drug retigabine (ezogabine) as a candidate therapeutic, and this drug will now be investigated further in a clinical trial of ALS subjects.


Dr. Wainger is Assistant Professor Neurology and Anesthesiology at Harvard Medical School and an attending physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. He studied molecular biology as an undergraduate at Princeton University and ion channel physiology in the MD/PhD program at Columbia University. He then completed medical residency in the Partners Neurology Program followed by a clinical fellowship in Pain Medicine at MGH and research fellowship with Clifford Woolf at Boston Children’s Hospital. His clinical expertise spans the intersection of neurology and pain medicine.

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