Meet Daniel Pelletier, MD, Professor of Neurology

Meet Daniel Pelletier, MD, vice chair of research and chief of the division of multiple sclerosis in the Department of Neurology at Keck Medicine of USC.

Dr. Pelletier is an internationally renowned multiple sclerosis clinician and researcher. He specializes in research of novel neuroimaging techniques to predict, monitor and more accurately define factors responsible for multiple sclerosis (MS) progression. Here’s what you won’t find on his resume:

He is an expert in metabolite imaging.

“Metabolite imaging, which is based on MRI technology, is an advanced imaging technique that allows us to view and measure chemicals, small amino acids, neurotransmitters, lipids, sugars, proteins and other compounds in tissues. It is a way of measuring the biochemistry without being invasive — patients simply lay flat in the magnet, and we take pictures. This research will help us better understand MS and how we treat it.”

Marathon running led him to medicine.

“Growing up, I always wanted to be an accountant. I studied computer science and artificial intelligence. For about five years, I worked for Revenue Canada Taxation, which is the equivalent of the Internal Revenue Service here in the United States.

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I wasn’t sure if I would return to school to study biology, chemistry or physics. After running three marathons, I developed an interest in the body. That’s when I realized pursuing medicine was the best way to combine biology, chemistry and physics.”

His goal was to combine his background in computer science with medicine.

“My lab is the central reading facility for nationwide, multicenter phase II trials — about 600 MRI scans from more than 20 different sites are coming my way for an upcoming study. Other aspects of my research include trying to better understand MS by using high field metabolite imaging and creating gigantic databases to collect data.”

He has a vision for MS treatment at Keck Medicine of USC.

“My interest in MS stems from multiple factors: I met fantastic professors and mentors at McGill University, and I was interested in working with a younger population than we typically see in neurology, since MS typically affects patients between 25 and 30 years old.”

My plan for Keck Medicine of USC is to expand our clinical practice. We want the USC Multiple Sclerosis Center to be a one-stop shop for MS care. Patients can get an MRI, an IV infusion, a visual test, a spinal tap, see their doctor and receive their care all in one place.”

He is a native of Quebec.

“I was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec. One of my hobbies is reading as many books about the politics and history of the province as I can. I would like to write my own book on this topic one day.”

He’s no stranger to adrenaline.

“I went skydiving recently with my daughter in Australia. She spent almost a year there. When you board the plane, it’s all fun. Then, when you jump out, you’ve reached a point of no return.”

Dr. Pelletier’s clinical practice is focused on individualized medicine using a multidisciplinary team approach. Visit the USC Multiple Sclerosis Center for more information.

Click here to view Dr. Pelletier’s full biography.