Scientific Advisory Board

SAB-DavidHousemanDavid E. Housman, PhD, is Chairman of the FSH Society’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) and is also Ludwig Professor of Biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Read full bio...

 Professor Housman received his BA and PhD from Brandeis University in 1966 and 1971, respectively. He is a member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Professor Housman’s research focuses on the identification and characterization of genes involved in human diseases. He and his colleagues have developed a rapid genotyping technology to determine the genetic roots of neurodegenerative disease, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Professor Housman is interested in developing a system that can be used to qualify drug candidates before they are advanced to expensive clinical trials.


Michael R. Altherr, PhD, received a BS degree in Biological Sciences from the Florida Institute of Technology in 1979 and an MS in 1981. He received his PhD from the University of California in 1986. Read full bio...

 Dr. Altherr then began working in biotechnology, where he developed a passion for creating tools that would support both the Human Genome Project as well as a tool to pursue the genetic basis of inherited illnesses. Since then, he has collaborated with several influential organizations and undertaken many scientific endeavors, including finding the gene responsible for Huntington’s disease. Through a series of “happy accidents,” Dr. Altherr’s work led him to the pursuit of the FSHD gene.

In 1991, Dr. Altherr received funding from the Muscular Dystrophy Association to pursue the genetic cause of FSHD. He and his team quickly produced a number of important findings that are the foundation for much of the current FSHD research. Dr. Altherr continued to work on FSHD with support from the MDA until 1996. Since then, he has had prominent roles at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the Genomics Group.


Rune R. Frants, PhD, is Professor of Medical Genetics at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands. Dr. Frants received his PhD from Abo Akademi. Read full bio

 Sparked from a conversation with a colleague, Dr. Frants’ fascination with FSHD began early in his professional academic career at the Institute of Human Genetics, Free University Amsterdam, and the Institute of Human Genetics at Leiden University (now Leiden University Medical Center).

During his active research life, Dr. Frants has worked on a plethora of other genetically determined disorders, including lung emphysema, gastric cancer, skin cancer (melanoma), cardiovascular disease, and neurogenetics, in particular, migraine and other forms of headache.

Dr. Frants has mentored some 30 PhDs and authored more than 300 peer-reviewed articles and numerous large national and international grants. He enjoys working on various scientific advisory boards and committees.


David Glass, MD, is Global Head of Muscle Diseases for Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Prior to joining Novartis, he was Vice President for Muscle Diseases at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, where he worked for 14 years. Dr. Glass also serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the FSH Society. Read full bio...

 He holds an MD from New York Medical College and conducted postdoctoral work at Columbia University. He is the co-author of more than 50 peer-reviewed research articles on cell signaling mechanisms in neuromuscular disease, obesity, and cancer.


Louis M. Kunkel, PhD, is internationally recognized in the field of human genetics and the genetics of muscular dystrophy in particular. Over the past three decades, Lew has devoted his career to understanding the molecular basis and developing a therapy for neuromuscular disorders and muscular dystrophy. In addition to his role as Board member, Lew serves on the Society’s Scientific Advisory Board. Read full bio...

 His major accomplishments include the discovery of the gene that causes Duchenne muscular dystrophy (1986) and being the first to pinpoint that gene’s importance in producing the critically needed muscle protein, dystrophin (1987). In the 1990s, Lou demonstrated that injection of either blood stem cells or muscle stem cells can partially restore dystrophin in affected skeletal muscles—a finding that may lead to treatments for many types of muscle diseases.

Lou has authored over 200 journal articles and 20 book chapters, and received more than 20 awards and honors for scientific leadership and achievement, including memberships in prestigious academies. He holds various director and chairman roles and is a professor of pediatrics and genetics at Harvard Medical School.


William R. Lewis Sr., MD, Chairman, has been a member of the Board of Directors since 1991 and Chairman since 2006. As a neurological surgeon with more than four decades of experience—and the husband and father of FSHD patients—Dr. Lewis brings his medical expertise and compelling personal interest to his role as Chairman. He is also a member of the FSH Society Scientific Advisory Board. Read full bio...

 Dr. Lewis attended Phillips Academy and received undergraduate degrees from the University of North Carolina and the University of South Carolina. He earned his doctorate of medicine from Duke University Medical Center and completed his residency at Stanford University.

Dr. Lewis enjoys gardening, spending time with his grandchildren, handiwork, and reading medical journals and other educational materials. He is still practicing neurological surgery on a limited basis in California, where he currently resides with his wife Duncan Lewis; they have four children and eight grandchildren.


William R. Lewis III, MD, is Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of California, Davis Medical Center and is Director of the Echocardiography Laboratory and Heart Failure Program. As a member of the Board’s Investment Advisory Committee, he also serves on the Society’s Scientific Advisory Board. Read full bio...

 Having received his doctorate of medicine in 1985 from Duke University, Dr. Lewis has authored over 100 publications. He currently resides in Sacramento, California.


Katherine D. Mathews, MD, is a Pediatric Neurologist and Director of the Child Neurology Clinic at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinic in Iowa City, Iowa. She is also an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa. Read full bio...

 Dr. Mathews became involved in the FSHD community in the 1990s when she was doing fellowship training in human genetics. Her research career began with using genetic linkage to identify the gene causing FSHD. Dr. Mathews closed her laboratory in 1998 due to increasing clinical and administrative demands, and her current academic efforts have been focused on improving the quality of care for patients with neuromuscular disease. She has maintained an active interest in the impact of molecular genetics on neuromuscular diseases (diagnosis, pathophysiology, and treatment).

Dr. Mathews has served on NIH and CDC working groups to define the direction of research on neuromuscular disease. She has also become increasingly involved in collaborative clinical research efforts, many of which are laying a groundwork for clinical trials.

George Padberg

George W.A.M. Padberg, MD, is head of the award-winning Department of Neurology and Chairman of the Neuro Sensory Cluster of UMC St. Radboud and a renowned expert in the field of neuromuscular diseases. He combines a great academic production with specialized patient care as well as a mode of governance that have helped many students become leading scientists. Read full bio...

 Dr. Padberg regularly gives lectures and advice to members of the patient organization for people with muscular dystrophy, the Netherlands Association of Neuromuscular Diseases. He is a reviewer for the leading international journals in the field of neurology.


Kathryn Wagner, MD PhD, is Director of the Center for Genetic Muscle Disorders at The Kennedy Krieger Institute. She is also an Associate Professor for the Department of Neurology and Neuroscience at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, where she conducts clinical trials in muscular dystrophy and cares for patients with FSH dystrophy. Read full bio...

 Dr. Wagner’s clinical interest is in neuromuscular and neurogenetic diseases, with a special emphasis on hereditary muscle diseases. Her research focuses on mechanisms to promote muscle regeneration.

Additional positions include her role as co-director of an NIH-funded Senator Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Center targeting modulation of muscle growth for muscular dystrophies. She is also a Principal Investigator in the NIH NICHD-funded Senator Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Center for FSHD co-directed by Dr. Charles Emerson Jr. at Boston Biomedical Research Institute. Dr. Wagner leads the muscle biopsy tissue collection effort at the Wellstone Center.