Dr. Marianna Cortese

Research Scientist


„The role of the Epstein-Barr virus in multiple sclerosis“

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system. The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has long been a top suspect etiologic factor for MS. The proof of causality has, however, remained elusive. This talk will tell the story of how a 20-year collaborative research effort with the US military led to unraveling the link between EBV and MS in a cohort study of 10 million young adults on active duty in the US military and suggests EBV infection as the leading cause of MS.


Dr. Cortese obtained her medical degree in 2013 from the University of Heidelberg in Germany. She completed her Ph.D. in Epidemiology in 2017 at the University of Bergen in Norway. She works as a Research Scientist in the Neuroepidemiology Research Group led by Dr. Alberto Ascherio at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health focusing on identifying risk factors and biomarkers of the onset and progression of multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.