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

Meet Lynn Laccohee, a social worker by training, who has been working for the MS Society for 33 years! Her work at the Society focuses on providing information and programs to people living with MS, their families and support network. She trains and provides volunteers of the MS Society who lead and facilitate support groups in their regions. “I have been fortunate to have known so many passionate people who devote their time and resources to make the future brighter for those impacted with MS,” says Lynn.

Her inspiration is the people she works with and those impacted by MS who devote hours and hours of their time to give back to their community through different avenues such as volunteering, fundraising, government relations or supporting research and the mission of the Society. “Working as part of a team with people who, although coping with their own challenges, still have a passion for and the compassion to help others has been a constant motivator,” adds Lynn.

She hopes that research will bring new answers to the complex questions that people affected by MS face. These included the causes and risk factors for MS, and ultimately, what cures MS. She is hopeful of the research supported by the Society. “Having been with the MS Society for so many years I can honestly say I have never been as excited or encouraged by the exceptional research and researchers who are bringing new knowledge, expertise and hope to those living with MS.”
Research Events and Funding Opportunities

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 of Canada launches vitamin D recommendations for MS

The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada has launched evidence-based recommendations on vitamin D supplementation that can help people affected by MS make informed decisions about their health. These recommendations will provide information for at-risk populations and people diagnosed with MS as well as highlight comorbid conditions and toxicity associated with vitamin D supplementation. The Society has launched two versions of the recommendations: a detailed scientific version geared to healthcare providers and researchers, and a laypersons version for the general public. The recommendations support healthcare providers and policymakers by providing a detailed assessment of the evidence on vitamin D and its role in MS to help with clinical practice and inform public health policy. For additional information on vitamin D and MS please visit the MS Update, Hot Topics and Vitamin D Frequently Asked Questions.

MS Society-funded study reveals exercise promotes repair in mice with MS-like lesions

Fatigue is a prominent symptom in multiple sclerosis (MS), hence, historically, individuals living with MS were advised to avoid physical exertion for fear that physical activity would make them feel worse. In more recent years, evidence supporting benefits of exercise in MS has emerged and healthcare practitioners are advising their patients to stay active as it is associated with reduced relapse rate, brain lesion volume, and disability progression in MS. A study funded by MS Society of Canada, Alberta Innovates: Health Solutions, and Canadian Institutes of Health Research, led by researchers Samuel K. Jensen and Dr. V. Wee Yong, explores if staying active enhances the repair or remyelination in mice induced with MS-like lesions. This work was recently published in Cell Reports. 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 posted additional blogs on research focused on cognition, clinical trials and registries, and a video interview with two researchers working on pediatric MS. Check out the blog at for all this and more exciting information to come from the conference. An exciting announcement will also be posted on Dr. Lee’s blog soon, so check out the blog regularly!
MS Society Funded Research

Dr. Shannon Dunn, Scientist, Toronto General Research Institute

This month we are featuring Dr. Shannon Dunn who is currently a scientist at the University Health Network and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Immunology at the University of Toronto. She was awarded her doctoral degree from the University of Western Ontario in 2002 after which she conducted post-doctoral training in the field of neuroimmunology at Stanford University under the supervision of Dr. Lawrence Steinman from 2002-2009. She leads a research program that focuses on how various risk factors for multiple sclerosis (MS) development impact biology to modulate autoimmune risk in an animal model of MS called experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). She has been exploring the roles of the female sex, early onset of puberty, and obesity in an animal model of MS.

Dr. Dunn was awarded nearly $350,000 to carry out a project focused on differences in sex in MS. MS affects three times more women than men. The reasons for this sex difference in MS incidence are still unknown. There is evidence showing that the immune response is more vigorous in women than men, which would explain why an autoimmune attack on myelin is more likely to happen in women. Dr. Dunn’s research team plans to explore this idea further. Her lab has already revealed that an inflammatory factor called interferon gamma (IFN-γ) is released in female, but not male rodents. The team will attempt to expand on this finding to people with MS and determine if women have more active immune systems that attack myelin than those in males. Understanding the biology of the sex difference will lead to an increased appreciation of the underlying disease mechanisms in MS, which has the potential to lead to the development of new MS therapies. Check out the study page here.

Did you know?

  • Did you know we recently updated our vitamin D and MS hot topics page with the latest and most impactful research on this topic. The vitamin D and MS page also has information on the newest recommendations for people at-risk of developing MS and those that are living with MS. Check out the webpage 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:

Cognitive Impairment Experienced During Multiple Sclerosis Relapses

This study wants to determine how cognition, which is your ability to learn, think and remember things, is affected when individuals experience an MS relapse. Cognitive impairment due to a relapse may not be as readily identified as physical effects of a relapse but can be identified by cognitive testing measures. Cognitive testing involves the use of simple tasks to assess a wide range of mental abilities, including attention, memory, problem-solving, language skills, etc and provides a way to measure the cognitive changes that occur during a relapse by comparing the scores gathered before a relapse to the scores gathered during a relapse. For more information visit the study page on the MS Research Portal.
In Other MS News...
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