Founded in 2009, Diana has built PANDAS Network (PN) from the ground up by developing stakeholder outreach, marketing and collaborating with healthcare experts. PN has grown from the story of her one child and the outstretched hand of another mother from Illinois that has traveled this path as well. Together, they discussed their paths from treatment to healing, which has now grown to thousands of families worldwide. In 2013, PN was honored to be chosen as a National Institute of Mental Health Outreach Partner. PN continues to be the leader in driving awareness of this emerging encephalitic illness (PANDAS/PANS).
The primary initiative of PN has been to lead the investigation in early research of the PANDAS/PANS diseases with seed-money grants funded by families. This has proven to be a critical step in the growing recognition of this illness. Research from each Center of Excellence in the U.S. indicates that the blood–brain barrier is impacted by the autoimmune system in PANDAS/PANS—and this promises to open, forever, new pathways into brain science.
Secondly, as executive director, Diana has driven the growth of awareness through the organization and support of national and international conferences (beginning in 2011 in California) to the latest conference, “Common Threads Among Post Infectious Autoimmune Diseases of the Brain” (Columbia Univ. 2018) that was attended by 800 persons and received national media attention (NBC News). Building community is the driving force of PN leadership in the field. PN will continue to lead in the expansion of interdisciplinary dialogue and partnerships with medical associations and nonprofit organizations worldwide.
Diana’s long-term goal is to wipe out the devastation of encephalitic illnesses like PANDAS/PANS, autoimmune encephalitis and Sydenham chorea and tie our community’s cutting-edge research into the growing revelations surrounding the crosstalk of the immune system and the brain.