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Research in Action - September 2018
Research in Action Newsletter
September 2018
Latest research news and updates from the MS Society of Canada
Research Profile

Beverly MacAdam had been aware of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) from a young age when her grandfather was thought to have the disease. Along with a childhood friend, several of her friends’ parents were also diagnosed with MS. However, receiving her own diagnosis 10 years ago was quite different. “There is a moment of harsh reality when a doctor says that you have MS,” she says. For some time, Bev only revealed her diagnosis to a select few because she had been very fortunate with the limited progression of her disease. “That being said, I continue to take my MS medication and have ever since my diagnosis.”

Bev first became involved with the MS Society through by volunteering which was a charity golf tournament that raised money for research. She also joined the organizing committee for Women Against MS (WAMS) Toronto Gala almost 8 years ago. Recently, Bev volunteered as a community representative, meaning she was part of panel with scientific experts to provide her input on potential projects that the MS Society could fund. “I truly enjoyed participating as a Community Representative, I learned a lot and was totally inspired! The dedication of the researchers to learning, creativity, discovery all in the name of finding a cure for MS gave me hope. It inspired me that there is an entire community of scientists across the country looking at MS but now I can imagine an entire network of scientists across the country tackling a whole bunch of complex questions and problems, looking for solutions. Canadian scientists rock!”

When asked what she hopes research will provide for people with MS Bev responds, “I will always ask for a cure for MS first. The long term, chronic, complex nature of this disease in addition to the impact it has on Canadian women in particular makes finding a cure so important for Canadians. But until that time, it is important to find solutions for identifying, preventing and improving the lives of those with MS.”
Research Events and Funding Opportunities

Participate in the Listening to People Affected by MS 2.0 Survey

Your voice matters! You can help us measure our impact and identify what we need to work on next when you participate in our Listening to People with MS 2.0 Initiative. We want to hear from Canadians affected by MS about their quality of life priorities, needs and barriers to better inform decisions related to our programs, services, research, and advocacy initiatives. Take the survey by visiting or contacting your local MS office at 1-844-859-6789 by October 19.

Leading MS experts to present at 2018 MS Connect Conference in Toronto

The MS Society’s Ontario and Nunavut Division is pleased to announce that registration for the 2018 MS Connect Conference: Bringing the MS Community Together is now open. The event will take place on November 17 at the Holiday Inn Yorkdale in Toronto. The conference is open to people with MS, their caregivers, and the larger MS community, and will include presentations from leading MS experts Dr. Wee Yong, Dr. Ruth Ann Marrie, and Dr. Jens Walter. For more information visit the MS Society's website.

PhD and Postdoctoral Fellow positions available at the University of British Columbia

The Pharmacoepidemiology in Multiple Sclerosis (PiMS) group, led by Dr. Helen Tremlett at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, British Columbia), is seeking highly qualified and motivated PhD and Postdoctoral Fellows to join the team. This is an exciting opportunity that will provide an excellent training environment for qualified researchers who are interested in studying multiple sclerosis. For details about these positions, please visit Should you have any questions or if you would like to apply, please email (cc:

Updates on the 3rd Scientific Congress of the Progressive MS Alliance: Making a difference through rehabilitation and Symptom Management

The laboratory of Dr. Luc Vallières is looking for an enthusiastic, hardworking, highly motivated, rigorous, and interactive graduate student with strong interest in neuroimmunology and the following qualifications: Degree (B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D.) in a relevant discipline, knowledge in immunology, good academic record, good writing skills, and potential experience in scientific publications and communications. Interested applicants must submit by e-mail a statement of research interests, a curriculum vitae, a list of publications, a recent academic record, and the names and addresses of three references to:

Dr. Luc Vallières, Ph.D., Professor
Department of Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Laval University
Neuroscience Unit, Laval University Hospital Research Center
2705 Laurier Boulevard, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, G1V 4G2
Research Spotlight

MS Society of Canada announces $5 million support for a clinical trial on improving cognition in progressive MS

The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada announced a $5 million, multicenter, international clinical trial to investigate if cognitive rehabilitation and aerobic exercise can improve cognition in people with progressive MS. The study has the potential to provide a treatment option for people living with progressive MS who are affected by cognitive difficulties. The research team will enroll 360 people with progressive MS from 11 centres across six countries. Participants will be given treatment over the course of 12 weeks. Brain imaging using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) will be conducted in a subgroup of 120 participants to see whether cognitive improvement is also linked to changes in lesion and brain atrophy, and improved regional brain activation during performance of a cognitive task. This clinical study is the first of its kind to use a large sample that incorporates many countries and has the potential to define how best to treat cognitive dysfunction. For more information, check out the MS Update or news release.

Improving cognitive function in MS: A researcher looking to make a difference for people diagnosed with progressive MS

In her most recent post, Dr. Karen Lee talks about the field of cognitive rehabilitation and exercise and how the two areas are being targeted with the hopes that a combination of these two approaches will improve cognitive dysfunction in MS. This research effort is led by MS neurologist, Dr. Anthony Feinstein. To learn more about Dr. Feinstein, see the research profile below. Check out the blog at that provides more information on cognitive rehabilitation in MS.

MS Society Funded Research

Dr. Anthony Feinstein, Neuropsychiatrist and Associate Scientist, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

This month we are featuring Dr. Anthony Feinstein , a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. He has a PhD and a master’s degree through the University of London, England. His expertise is in the neuropsychiatry of multiple sclerosis. This is best understood as the behavioral consequences of MS. He has researched behavioral disorders in people with multiple sclerosis for 26 years and runs a busy clinical practice in which over 80% of the patients have MS. Dr. Feinstein’s studies entail detailed neuropsychological testing, brain imaging (both structural and functional) and quantification of mood symptoms. The findings from research conducted by Dr. Feinstein are considered translational in that the findings from the lab are generally applicable to patient care. More recently, he has begun a series of studies looking at how cannabis might affect cognition and brain imaging in people with MS. His research has been supported by the MS Society of Canada, Canadian Institute of Health Research and the Progressive MS Alliance.

Dr. Feinstein was awarded over $250,000 in the 2015-2016 Annual Competition to carry out a project on cannabis and MS. Almost one in five people with multiple sclerosis (MS) use cannabis. People with MS using cannabis to alleviate some of their symptoms have more extensive deficits generally involving information processing speed, working memory and executive function. Dr. Anthony Feinstein and his team will determine if these cognitive changes are reversible if a person with MS stops smoking cannabis. He will pursue this question by performing cognitive testing and brain imaging on two groups of participants: one group will be instructed to stop using cannabis while the other will be allowed to continue, and both groups will be followed for 28 days. Preliminary data suggests that individuals with MS who abstain from cannabis use show less cognitive impairment. Overall, the results of this project will be important in educating people living with MS and physicians alike about the effects of cannabis on cognition. Check out the study page here. Dr. Feinstein was also awarded $5 million to test if cognitive rehabilitation, or exercise, or a combined approach of cognitive rehabilitation and exercise will improve cognitive function. This clinical study is the first of its kind to use a large sample that incorporates many countries and has the potential to define how best to treat cognitive dysfunction in people diagnosed with progressive MS. Check out his study page here.

Did you know?

We have developed a page which allows people to navigate the research that the MS Society funds based on their research interest. Visitors to the website will be able to view projects based on four categories: Cause and Risk Factors, Symptom Management and Quality of Life, Mechanisms of Disease, and Therapy and Clinical Tool Develop. The page also has the option to view research we fund based on the following hot topics: Cannabis, Gut microbiome, Stem Cells, Progressive MS, Pediatric MS, Wellness Solutions. Interested in seeing the research we fund in your region? There is an option for that too! Check out the website here.
Get Involved in a Research Study
The MS Research Portal is a resource provided by the MS Society of Canada that aims to connect Canadian researchers seeking participants for studies with people affected by MS who want to get involved in research. Each month, this section will highlight a select study hosted on the Portal. This month’s feature study is:

A Multi-site Randomized Controlled Trial of MS INFoRm: An Interactive Fatigue Management Resource for Persons with Multiple Sclerosis.

People with MS commonly experience extreme fatigue that negatively impacts their ability to engage in a full range of daily activities, quality of life, and employment. Currently, available treatments for fatigue in MS are limited by their lack of individualization and access. The proposed study will provide crucial evidence about the potential of MS INFoRm as a self- management tool that can be made widely available to persons with MS as a means to effectively reduce the daily impact of MS fatigue. For more information please visit the study page on the MS Research Portal.
In Other MS News...
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