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

Uorooj Tariq’s first introduction to multiple sclerosis (MS) was in high school when a former classmate’s mother was diagnosed with the disease. “At the time, I knew very little about the disease, except that it drastically changed the lives of not only the person affected by MS but also their family and loved ones.”

Fast forward to the present, Uorooj now works as Coordinator, Research at the MS Society of Canada. She helps oversee the administration of funding opportunities such as the Annual Grant Competition and Collaborative Team Grants, managing the MS Research Portal and helping with Research in Action Newsletter. “I have been at the MS Society for almost 2 years and every day I feel as enthusiastic about my work as the day I first started.”

Her favourite part of her job, she says, is being able to meet with those affected by MS. Whether it’s by volunteering at the annual Women Against MS Gala, through research engagement discussions or through the Community Representatives program. “It’s one thing going about your day to day work but being able to meet those affected by MS and see that the work you do is truly impacting them positively is an amazing feeling and is what serves as a motivation for me.”
Research Events and Funding Opportunities

The MS Society is hiring! We are looking for an Assistant Vice President of Research

Based in Toronto, Ontario and operating on a national level, the Assistant Vice President, Research reports to and works collaboratively with the Vice President, Research on a variety of key initiatives including developing innovative research programs while working seamlessly with a team of researchers across the country and globally. The AVP Research will act as an effective ambassador to raise awareness and funds for MS Society research through impactful presentations, discussions, professional networking and social media. The Assistant Vice President, Research is a leader with the ability to distill complex scientific information and design effective research programs. For more information, check out our Employment Opportunities 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:

Graduate student position available at Laval University

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-funded clinical trial confirms venoplasty for treatment of MS is ineffective

Chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) is a theory in which the veins in the head and neck are narrowed or blocked, and therefore unable to efficiently drain blood from the central nervous system. CCSVI had been proposed initially by Dr. Paolo Zamboni, to be the cause of the pathogenesis and disabling symptoms experienced by those diagnosed with MS due to impaired draining leading to inflammation. Multiple research groups, including Dr. Zamboni's, subsequently showed that venoplasty did not alter the course of MS in individuals that had undergone the procedure. Recently, a study funded by the MS Society of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), with additional funding from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, Research Manitoba, and Ministère de la Santé et des Services Sociaux du Québec, investigated the safety and efficacy of venoplasty versus sham procedure in individuals who displayed signs of CCSVI in MS. The study led by MS researcher and neurologist, Dr. Anthony L. Traboulsee from the University of British Columbia, was published in the Neurology journal.

For more information, check out the MS Update.

MS Society of Canada reports on research from the ECTRIMS 2018 conference

The MS Society research team had the opportunity to attend the European Committee for Treatment and Research in MS (ECTRIMS) conference from October 10-12. We have already posted blogs on research focused on risk factors, progressive MS, and an exciting video post on the collaborative team that will be conducting the $5 million clinical trial on cognition in MS. Check out the blog at for all this and more exciting information to come from the conference.

MS Society Funded Research

Dr. Brenda Banwell, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

This month we are featuring Dr. Brenda Banwell who is the Chief of the Division of Child Neurology and Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania .Dr. Banwell is the lead investigator of the Canadian Pediatric Demyelinating Disease Program (CPDDP; 5 Principal Investigators, 47 collaborating researchers, 15 site investigators), with co-investigators (Drs. Bar-Or, Arnold, Marrie and Yeh) funded by the Multiple Sclerosis of Canada (2004-2020). Dr. Banwell’s research focuses on the clinical features of MS and related disorders, as well as the neuroimaging, biomarker and outcomes features of children. Dr. Banwell served as the pediatric neurologist on the 2010 and now 2017 International MS Panel on MS Diagnosis (“McDonald criteria”), the International Advisory Committee on Clinical Trials of New Drugs in Multiple Sclerosis, and the National Institute of Health Common Data Elements in MS committee. She is the Director on the Board of the American Academy of Neurology and serves on the Medical Advisory Board for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and on the Medical Advisory Board of the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation.

Dr. Banwell and her collaborative team were awarded $3,200,000 to carry out a project focused on pediatric MS. Until the launch of the Canadian Pediatric Demyelinating Disease Network in 2004, the prevalence and impact of MS in children and adolescents was unknown, and how their MS differs from MS in adults was poorly understood. In collaboration with a team consisting of immunologists, epidemiologists, and imaging specialists, Dr. Brenda Banwell leads the pediatric MS research efforts that focus on the impact of MS on quality of life, health care service utilization, brain development, cognitive performance, and the immune system. The collaborative research team has discovered that approximately 1 in every 100,000 Canadian children experiences the first MS-like attack each year. Over 90% of children recover well from this first attack, but approximately 20% will be diagnosed with MS. Why some children develop MS, while others have only one demyelinating attack is still unclear. Understanding why some children have only a single attack, without developing a lifelong disease, MS, may shed light on valuable strategies for MS treatment. Infection with Epstein Barr virus, low vitamin D levels and an imbalance between the “good” immune cells (those that control immune reactions) and the “aggressive” immune cells that attack the brain are all prevalent in children that become diagnosed with MS. In characterizing the children diagnosed with the MS, the research team noted that at least 30% of children living with MS have trouble with learning and memory, and have smaller brains that do not grow as much as expected. These critical findings emphasize the need to find ways to protect the brain and to improve repair. Check out the study page here.

Did you know?

  • The European Committee for Treatment and Research in MS (ECTRIMS 2018) had more than 9400 participants with 1,975 submitted abstracts, 156 invited talks, 114 oral presentaitons, and 1014 posters. The conference brought researchers from around the world with a wealth of information on therapy, risk management, imaging, biomarkers, genetics, diagnosis, and progressive MS, just to name a few. To see the full program, check out the following site.
  • On October 17, 2018 cannabis was legalized subject to provincial or territorial restrictions for adults who are 18 years of age or older. The use of medical cannabis in Canada was legalized in 2001. The MS Society created a Hot Topics page on our website, which includes information on how medical cannabis works, research on medical cannabis in MS, Canadian studies on medical cannabis and MS, medical cannabis use in children and adolescents with MS, and challenges on conducting medical cannabis research.
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:

Canadian MS Pregnancy Prospective Cohort Study (CANPREG-MS).

MS is the most commonly acquired neurological disorder affecting adults of reproductive age. This 5-year study emerged in response to an increasing need by women with MS for evidence-based, up-to-date, and personalized information surrounding reproductive issues and childbearing. For more information please visit the study page on the MS Research Portal.
In Other MS News...
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