This year’s John Dystel Prize for Multiple Sclerosis Research is being awarded to Anne H. Cross, a neurologist and MS chair in the department of neuroimmunology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, for her research into the role of immune B-cells in multiple sclerosis attacks and new imaging approaches to track disease activity.
The peer-decided award is given annually by the National MS Society (NMSS) and the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) to recognize expectional work in this disease, and 2019 marks its 25th year. The Dystel Prize was established in 1994 by the parents of John Jay Dystel, an attorney who died in 2003 of complications resulting from progressive MS.
Cross will receive the award and give the prize lecture on May 8 at the AAN Annual Meeting, taking place in Philadelphia, May 4-10.
“I’m thrilled about the Dystel Prize,” Cross said in a press release. “It lets me know that my career’s work has led to something meaningful.”
She highlighted the support she has received from the NMSS in her research work, including a Harry Weaver Neuroscience Scholar Award in 1990, and a five-year career development award for young scientists. “I wouldn’t have my career without the Society,” Cross said.
A practicing neurologist as well as professor, Cross is also co-director of Washington University’s John L. Trotter MS Center.
Emmanuel Waubant, MD and a professor of neurology at the University of California at San Francisco, nominated Cross for the prize. “She was the very first to demonstrate the role of B-cells, initially in animal models of MS and later in MS,” Waubant said, adding that her search led to treatments targeting these cells.
“She very boldly investigated the role of B-cells despite the field’s dogma at that time that claimed T-cells were the main cell type contributing to MS onset and worsening,” Waubant said. “Her research has always been at the forefront of the field, and often provocative.”
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