About Dr. Rodriguez

Dr. Rodriguez, a specialist in neuroregeneration at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, is a nationally recognized multiple sclerosis expert. Dr. Rodriguez is a professor of neurology and a professor of immunology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. He holds the Mildred A. and Henry Uihlein II Professorship in Medical Research.

He earned his B.A. degree in medical sciences and his M.D. degree from Northwestern University. After residency in internal medicine and a residency in neurology at Mayo Clinic School of Graduate Medical Education, Dr. Rodriguez served as a trainee at the National Institutes of Health and completed fellowships in neuropathology at the University of California, San Diego, and at The Scripps Research Institute.

Dr. Rodriguez has made significant contributions to both clinical and basic science research on multiple sclerosis.

Clinically, he has been instrumental in population-based cohort studies of approximately 200 patients with multiple sclerosis in Olmsted County in Minnesota. These studies resulted in a number of significant discoveries. For example, Dr. Rodriguez's work revealed that the progression of neurological deficits in multiple sclerosis is slower than anticipated. Dr. Rodriguez has also helped identify a cohort of patients that seems to have a nondisabling type of multiple sclerosis, which has provided important data about the clinical management of patients with multiple sclerosis.

Dr. Rodriguez was the first to demonstrate conclusively that plasma exchange is effective in patients with severe, devastating attacks of multiple sclerosis. In a series of studies, he showed that patients with acute onset paraplegia, quadriplegia or respiratory insufficiency remarkably recovered after plasma exchange. These results were confirmed in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial performed at Mayo Clinic, showing that about 40% of patients have dramatic recovery after this treatment. These results have changed the management of acute devastating attacks of multiple sclerosis.

In basic science research, Dr. Rodriguez has made three seminal discoveries: the CD8 T cell's role in demyelination/axonal injury; the remyelinating mechanism in human monoclonal antibodies; and the axon-protective role of IL6, all of which have been awarded patents.

In a work published in Nature Medicine, Dr. Rodriguez demonstrated for the first time that CD8 T cells are critical for the destruction of axons. T cells work by recognizing class I MHC molecules. He also discovered that perforin secreted by CD8 cytotoxic T cells is the critical molecule in axonal injury and death.

In the field of remyelination, Dr. Rodriguez has identified a series of human monoclonal antibodies that bind to the surface of oligodendrocytes. These antibodies trigger the remyelination program both in vivo and in vitro.

Dr. Rodriguez has demonstrated that interleukin-6 is critical in protecting neurons and axons from death in a demyelinating lesion.

Dr. Rodriguez's work has resulted in patent awards to him and Mayo Clinic, signaling that these discoveries may soon be used in patient treatment.