Neurologist Xavier Montalban wins 2023 Charcot Award for research

He has studied immune system in MS; used MRI to predict progression, response

Andrea Lobo, PhD avatar

by Andrea Lobo, PhD |

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A giant check is presented to a scientist as part of an award for research.

The director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center of Catalonia (CEMCAT) has been recognized with the 2023 Charcot Award, a prestigious prize that honors researchers for their lifetime work toward understanding multiple sclerosis (MS).

Xavier Montalban, MD, PhD, has contributed to several areas of MS research and clinical care throughout his 30-year career with a particular focus on progressive forms of the disease.

The award is given once every two years by the MS International Federation (MSIF), a global network of organizations working to improve the quality of life in those affected with the disease and to bring an end to the neurodegenerative condition.

Montalban has studied various aspects of MS using a MRI to monitor the disease and in identifying biomarkers that helped predict its progression and response to treatment. He also studied the role of the immune system in MS and explored strategies to manage and treat the condition.

Montalban also helped develop the MAGNIMS consensus guidelines and the MRI criteria for the diagnosis of MS and was a key contributor toward developing the 2010 and 2017 McDonald criteria.

His work was essential in developing and conducting important clinical trials, including those that led to approvals of Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) and Gilenya (fingolimod) in relapsing and progressive forms of MS.

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Honoring a 30-year career

“I am truly honored and humbled to be the recipient of the 2023 Charcot Award. I would like to thank the MSIF, one of the world leading Institutions in MS which I have felt a strong attachment to for the whole of my career,“ Montalban, who served as chair of the network’s International Medical and Scientific Board (IMSB), said in a press release. “This award indeed marks the top of one’s career of [30] years in which we have gone from a horizon with no treatments, no way out, to the most advanced drugs that today clearly are instrumental in making the journey of people living with MS much less harmful.”

Montalban now serves as chair of neurology at Vall d’Hebron University Hospital in Spain and is the chief of the neuroimmunology research group at the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute.

He has also chaired the International Progressive MS Alliance’s scientific steering committee since its inception in 2013. The alliance gathers international experts to accelerate the development of effective treatments for progressive MS. MSIF is a founding member.

Montalban is also a member of the board of the European Charcot Foundation and of the International Panel on Multiple Sclerosis Diagnostic Criteria and Clinical Trials, and the former president of the European Committee of Treatment and Research in MS (ECTRIMS). He also works as editor for clinical cases of the Multiple Sclerosis Journal.

“Professor Montalban has led a world-class MS center (CEMCAT), has led numerous clinical trials, has contributed pivotal insights into the imaging features of MS, and has served as the Chair of the International Medical and Scientific Board of the MSIF,” said Brenda Banwell, MD, chair of the MSIF IMSB, and Jorge Correale, MD, deputy chair of the MSIF IMSB. “In all of these roles, he has collaborated extensively and is valued colleague to our entire community.”

The Charcot Award carries a £1,500 (about $2,000) prize and the winner is invited to give the Charcot Lecture at the ECTRIMS meeting, held each October.