The 2016 Fritz Krauth Award was given by the Paralyzed Veterans of America to Dr. Sarah Moyon, a researcher focusing on ways to understand and treat symptoms of diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS) and those of the spine. The award ceremony took place at Cleveland, Ohio, at the bi-annual board meeting of the Paralyzed Veterans.
Moyon is a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Patrizia Casaccia, at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York. Her research attempts to better characterize oligodendrocyte progenitor cells using a variety of approaches. These cells give rise to cells that produce myelin sheaths, which are the protective layers that cover neurons in the central nervous system (CNS).
When oligodendrocyte progenitor cells are not working properly, neither are the cells they differentiate into. The result is that neurons are left without enough insulation — becoming demyelinated neurons — leaving them vulnerable to attacks by the immune system and other factors in their environment. The resulting loss of nerve cell communication caused by demyelination leads to the host of the muscle and brain problems associated with MS.
Moyon’s previous work – which was the center of her PhD thesis – dealt with how these CNS cells are affected by stress due to injury and aging.
Her current research revolves around the epigenetic signature of adult oligodendrocytes (namely, DNA methylation and hydroxymethylation), or the specific set of changes that occur in the genome and can sometimes differ between healthy people and MS patients.
The honor carries an unspecified grant award, money which will be used to further her research. It was named for Fritz Krauth, a veteran and group member who was paralyzed by a spinal cord injury he suffered while serving as a naval aviator.
“It is an honor to be recognized in this way, and to know that I can plan this important research two years in advance. The faith that the fellowship has shown in us will inspire us to push even harder for answers that will bring hope to all who suffer inactive or slow cellular repair as a result of injury, aging or MS,” Moyon said in a press release.
Her work could also provide clues to treating people with spinal cord injury and disease, issues that affect a large number of veterans worldwide.
“The fellow research grant is one among several important categories in research funding at Paralyzed Veterans of America’s Research Foundation,” said Lana McKenzie, associate executive director of Medical Services and Health Policy. “Dr. Moyon’s grant scored the highest in this category, and her research will have a direct impact on Paralyzed Veteran’ members living with MS.”
Grant applications are evaluated for merit and relevance by physicians, spinal cord specialists, and researchers, and the group’s Research Foundation Board of Trustees decides on the award’s amount.