Xia Laboratory

Zongqi Xia, MD, PhD

Zongqi Xia, MD, PhD

Principal Investigator
Assistant Professor of Neurology and Biomedical Informatics


The Laboratory of Translational Neurology and Neuroinflammation focuses on investigating the unmet medical needs in the field of clinical neuroimmunology. Through a multi-disciplinary collaborative translational research program, we aim to bring precision medicine to multiple sclerosis (MS) and related disorders.

Currently, there are three ongoing research initiatives.

First, we are conducting a prospective cohort study of individuals at risk for MS with a nationwide scope of enrollment. Investigating the risk factors of MS and mapping the sequence of events leading to the onset of disease will pave the way to ultimately test primary prevention strategies in high-risk individuals.

Second, we are conducting a prospective cohort study of people with MS to investigate the biological and clinical predictors of disease course and treatment response in MS. Insights into the factors that influence the variable treatment response and the diverse trajectories of disease progression in MS will be the key to provide individually tailored therapy.

Third, we are developing computational approaches to ascertain treatment response and testing algorithms that predict treatment response using electronic health records data. Tools that leverage real-life clinical data for outcome prediction in chronic neurological disorders have the potential for widespread dissemination at the point of care.

For these initiatives, we harness multi-dimensional patient-derived data and deploy integrative quantitative science approaches to gain insights into the underlying disease process and translate these findings into the clinical arena to improve individualized risk prediction, prevention, and management in multiple sclerosis and other related disorders of neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration.

We are seeking highly motivated individuals to join our team:

1. Clinical research assistant
2. Laboratory research scientist
3. Data scientist
4. Post-doctoral fellow: quantitative science, physician-scientist


BA Biology Swarthmore College 1997
PhD Neuroscience Case Western Reserve University 2003
MD Medicine Case Western Reserve University 2005
Internship Internal Medicine University Hospitals of Cleveland 2005-2006
Residency Neurology Brigham and Women's Hospital & Massachusetts General Hospital 2006-2009
Post-doc Translational Neuroimmunology and Genomics Brigham and Women's Hospital 2009-2013
M.M.Sc Clinical Investigation Harvard Medical School 2011-2013

Positions Held

Associated Scientist Broad Institute 2009-
Instructor Harvard Medical School 2010-2013
Assistant Professor Harvard Medical School 2013-2015
Visiting Scientist Harvard Medical School 2016-
Collaborator Scientist Brigham and Women's Hospital 2016-
Assistant Professor University of Pittsburgh 2016-

Honors and awards

1993-1994 Merit Award (City of Philadelphia)

1993-1997 Senator Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship

1997-2005 National Research Service Award (Medical Scientist Training Program at Case Western Reserve University)

2003 Dean’s Prize for MD/PhD Candidate (Case Western Reserve University)

2005 Benjamin Kean Traveling Fellowship (American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene)

2005 Frederick C. Robbins MD Travel Fellowship (Case Center for Global Health and Diseases)

2005 Neurology Department Graduation Award (Case Western Reserve University)

2009 Board certification (American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology)

2009-2010 National Research Service Award (Harvard Medical School Autoimmunity Training Program)

2010-2013 Clinician Scientist Development Award (National Multiple Sclerosis Society and American Academy of Neurology)

2016 European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis, 32nd Congress (London, UK), best poster award


Selected Publications

Xia Z, Chibnik LB, Glanz BI, Liguori M, Tran D, Khoury SJ, Chitnis T, Weiner HL, Holyoak T, Guttmann CR, De Jager PL (2010). A putative Alzheimer’s Disease risk allele in PCK1 influences brain atrophy in multiple sclerosis. PLoS One. 5:e14169.

Xia Z, Liu Q, Berger CT, Keenan BT, Kaliszewska A, Cheney PC, Srivastava G, Wood I, De Jager PL, and Alter G (2012). A 17q12 locus allele is associated with altered natural killer cell subsets and function. Journal of Immunology. 188: 3315-22.

Xia Z, Secor E, Chibnik L, Bove R, Cheng S, Chitnis T, Cagan A, Gainer V, Pei C, Liao K, Shaw S, Ananthakrishnan A, Szolovits P, Weiner H, Karlson E, Murphy S, Savova G, Cai T, Churchill S, Plenge R, Kohane I and De Jager P (2013). Modeling disease severity in multiple sclerosis using electronic health records. PLoS One. 8 (11): e78927.

Ottoboni L, Frohlich I, Lee M, Healy B, Keenan B, Xia Z, Chitnis T, Guttmann C, Khoury S, Weiner H, Hafler D, and De Jager P (2013). Clinical relevance and functional consequences of the TNFRSF1A multiple sclerosis susceptibility locus. Neurology. 81: 1891-1899.

Liao K, Cai T, Savova G, Murphy S, Karlson E, Ananthakrishnan A, Gainer S, Shaw S, Xia Z, Szolovits P, Churchill S, and Kohane I (2015). Development of phenotype algorithms using electronic medical records and incorporating natural language processing. BMJ. 350: h1885.

Liao K, Ananthakrishnan A, Kumar V, Xia Z, Cagan A, Gainer V, Goryachev S, Chen P, Savova G, Agiel D, Churchill S, Lee J, Murphy S, Plenge, R, Szolovits P, Kohane I, Shaw S, Karlson E and Cai T (2015). Methods to develop an electronic medical record phenotype algorithm to compare the risk of coronary artery disease across 3 chronic disease cohorts. PLoS One. 10(8):e0136651.

Xia Z, White C, Owen E, von Korff A, Clarkson S, McCabe C, Cimpean M, Winn P, Hoesing A, Steele S, Cortese I, Chitnis T, Weiner H, Reich D, Chibnik L and De Jager P (2016). Genes and Environment in Multiple Sclerosis (GEMS) Project: a platform to investigate multiple sclerosis risk. Annals of Neurology. 79: 178-89.

Bove R, Musallam A, Xia Z, Baruch N, Messina S, Healy B and Chitnis T (2016). Longitudinal BMI trajectories in multiple sclerosis: sex differences in association with disease severity. Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders. 8: 136-140.

Bove R, Chua A, Xia Z, Chibnik L, De Jager P and Chitnis T (2016). Complex relation of HLA DRB1*1501, age at menarche and age at multiple sclerosis onset. Neurology Genetics. 2: e88.

Bargiela D, Bianchi M, Westover B, Chibnik L, Healy B, De Jager P and Xia Z (2017). Selection of first-line therapy in multiple sclerosis using risk-benefit decision analysis. Neurology. 88: 677-684.

Xia Z, Steele S, Bakshi A, Clarkson S, White C, Schindler M, Dewey B, Price L, Nair G, Ohayon J, Chibnik L, Cortese I, De Jager P and Reich D (2017). Assessment of early evidence of multiple sclerosis in a prospective study of asymptomatic high-risk first-degree family members. JAMA Neurology. 74: 293-300.

Xia Z and Friedlander RM (2017). Minocycline in multiple sclerosis – compelling results but too early to tell. New England Journal of Medicine. 376: 2191-2193.

Kowalec K, Wright G, Drögemöller B, Aminkeng F, Bhavsar A, Kingwell E, Yoshida E, Traboulsee A, Marrie R, Kremenchutzky M, Campbell T, Duquette P, Chalasani N, Wadelius M, Hallberg P, Xia Z, De Jager P, Denny J, Davis M, Ross C, Tremlett H and Carleton B (2018). Common variation near IRF6 is associated with interferon-beta-induced liver injury in multiple sclerosis. Nature Genetics. 50: 1081-1085.

Dhand A, White C, Johnson C, Xia Z and De Jager P (2018). A scalable online tool for quantitative social network assessment reveals potentially modifiable social environmental risks (in Multiple Sclerosis). Nature Communication. 9: 3930.

More publications

Lab Members

  • Nicole Myers

    RN, Former Research Coordinator


    Nicole is a clinical research assistant. She received her BS at Penn State University and has been a basic science research specialist at the University of Pittsburgh for over a decade with positions at the Schools of Public Health, Medicine, and Dental Medicine. She is interested in translational research and is currently attending nursing school.

  • Kelsey Michenko

    Former Research Coordinator


    Kelsey is a clinical research assistant. She graduated in 2016 from Franklin and Marshall College with her BA in Biology. In college she worked on research projects ranging from synthesizing stable hydrocarbon radicals to starting a longitudinal study identifying the distribution of P. cinereus. She is interested in neurodegenerative diseases and attending physician assistant school.

  • Wen Zhu

    MD, Research Scientist

  • Shruthi Venkatesh

    Undergraduate Student

  • Blake Boehm

    Research Coordinator

  • Annie Khodarkovskaya

    Undergraduate Student

  • Danyal Quraishi

    Undergraduate Student

  • Liang Liang

    PhD, Post-doctoral Fellow