National MS Society Invests $25.3M to Support 60 New Research Projects, Train Clinicians

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by Patricia Silva, PhD |

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The National Multiple Sclerosis Society announced that it has invested $25.3 million to support nearly 60 new research projects aiming to better understand and treat multiple sclerosis (MS), and seven clinical training awards as part of the Society’s strategic approach to eventually curing MS.

This investment is part of the Society’s plan to commit a total of $54 million to MS research in 2016, funding in part or whole more than 380 new and ongoing studies worldwide. These projects cover a range of MS research and promising paths related to the disease, but focus is on priority areas, including progressive MS, nervous system repair, genetic factors, environmental factors, wellness, and lifestyle.

“The comprehensive nature of these new research investments is very exciting,” Bruce Bebo, PhD, the National MS Society’s executive vice president of research, said in a press release. “We’re funding scientific breakthroughs that will propel the knowledge we need to end MS and identify everyday solutions that change the lives of people with all forms of the disease.”

Among the projects chosen to receive funding are:

  • An effort by scientists at Harvard University and the University of California San Francisoc to track a group of MS patients over time and creates a platform to enable researchers worldwide to identify factors that might drive MS progression;
  • A study by the Collaborative MS Center at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota focusing on whether abnormal energy production in nerve cells leads to nerve degeneration, and investigating strategies to correct it in MS patients;
  • A study at Ohio State University that will investigate if low vitamin D intake early in life increases the risk of developing MS;
  • A clinical trial in Germany and the United States testing an online program to treat MS-related symptoms of depression, in an effort to increase wellness.

Clinical training awards are of two types: a five-year Institutional Clinician Training Award to mentors and institutions skilled in training board-certified neurologists and physiatrists in MS specialist care, and one-year mentoring awards to new physicians and researchers for post-residency training.

Two physician/scientists are recipients of the 2016 Institutional Clinician Training Awards as lead mentors: Elliot Frohman, MD, with The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas; and Annette Wundes, MD, with the University of Washington, Seattle.

According to the MS Society, a total of 11 institutions are now training MS specialists through these awards, readying a new generation of “clinical care specialists with a depth and breadth of knowledge required to provide exceptional care to people with MS well into the future.”

The five post-residency mentoring award winners are: Tamara Bockow Kaplan, MD, with the Partners MS Center, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Boston; Marwa Kaisey, MD, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles; Siamac Esfandi, MD, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver; Laura Baldassari, MD, University of Utah Health Care, Salt Lake City; and NgocHanh Vu, MD, MS Center, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville.

More information on the Society-supported 2016 research projects is available through this link.


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