My thesis work included the initial cloning of the gene encoding glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD). GAD synthesizes GABA, the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. Subsequently I, and others, discovered that autoimmunity to GAD in the insulin-producing beta-cells of pancreatic islets was a major target of autoantibodies in type 1 diabetes (T1D). Our studies helped the development of GAD autoantibody-based pre-diagnostics for T1D that are now in clinical use and we developed a vaccine that induces beta-cell tolerance, which is now in phase III clinical trials. Because of our background in both immunology and neuroscience, we have recently pursued projects that span these fields. We collaborated with my departmental colleague Dr. William Melega who is an expert in pre-clinical models of PD, leading to our recent report that immunostimulation in the periphery through BCG vaccination can have neuroprotective effects in the MPTP model of Parkinson’s disease.