UCSF Researcher Earns Scientific Breakthrough Award

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by Margarida Maia, PhD |

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This year’s Scientific Breakthrough Award, funded by the American Brain Foundation, has been awarded to Stephen Hauser, MD, for helping to understand the genetic basis, immune processes, and treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS).

The award recognizes the work of an individual or a team whose research has contributed to advances in the care of people living with MS or another neurological disease.

“I thank the American Brain Foundation for this wonderful honor, which I accept with gratitude and on behalf of the many others who participated in this 40-year journey — colleagues across national borders, industry partners who took risks on a disease mechanism judged by many as implausible, funders including the National MS Society and the NIH [National Institutes of Health], and private donors who believed in novel scientific directions,” Hauser said in a press release.

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Hauser is a professor of neurology and the director of the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Weill Institute for Neurosciences. Appointed by Barack Obama  to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, Hauser advised the president about potential issues from advances in biomedicine and related areas.

Part of his work has led to the understanding that B-cells, a type of white blood cell, play a key role in MS by attacking the myelin sheaths that cover and protect the nerves in the brain and spinal cord, causing inflammation and damage.

This has led to the development of B-cell-targeting therapies, such as NovartisKesimpta (ofatumumab) and Genentech’s Ocrevus (ocrelizumab).

“Hauser’s research led to the development of B-cell therapies for people with multiple sclerosis, representing a powerful new approach for progressive forms of the disease. His 40+ year, career-long commitment has changed the landscape of treatment and deepened our understanding of MS,” the foundation wrote on its awards page.

Hauser, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Physicians, will receive the award today at the foundation’s Commitment to Cures 2022 gala in Seattle, Washington, or viewed free online.

In addition to Hauser, the event will honor actor and comedian Seth Rogen and his wife Lauren Miller Rogen, who will receive the Public Leadership in Neurology Award for their work as brain disease advocates.

Also, Susannah Cahalan, a journalist and best-selling author will receive the Ambassador Award.

Besides the Scientific Breakthrough Award, Hauser has received other awards and honors for his work, including the Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award, the Charcot Award, the Dystel Prize for MS Research, and the Taubman Prize for Excellence in Translational Medical Research.