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Research in Action - January 2019
Research in Action Newsletter
January 2019
Latest research news and updates from the MS Society of Canada
Research Profile

Stephanie Blandford is a Doctoral student at the Memorial University of Newfoundland where she is performing research in Dr. Craig Moore’s lab. The objective of her study is to identify mechanisms of cellular communication between the immune and nervous systems that cause the damage in the central nervous system and are also useful as biomarkers to diagnose MS and differentiate between different MS subtypes. “Although ending up in MS research was inadvertent, I couldn’t really imagine studying anything else!” says Stephanie. Individuals living with MS and their will and determination to overcoming their disease is what inspires Stephanie in her MS research project.

One of the reasons that Stephanie enjoys doing research is to challenge and grow intellectually, especially with the dynamic nature of biomedical research. “The ability to contribute to the betterment of the patient’s lives in a meaningful way” is another reason that Stephanie enjoys and is motivated to continue research in MS.

“MS is a complex condition and an interdisciplinary approach is vital to making a meaningful clinical impact. The MS Society of Canada does an amazing job of bringing many disciplines together to achieve this goal. I’m proud and honoured to be a part of it,” says Stephanie.
Research Events and Funding Opportunities

The endMS National Training Program is proud to announce the launch of the 9th endMS Scholar Program for Researchers IN Training (endMS SPRINT) and the 11th annual endMS Summer School competition.

endMS SPRINT is designed for the elite MS trainee who is at the graduate, postdoctoral or clinical fellowship level with an interest in:
  • enhancing knowledge and skill in MS research,
  • taking part in interdisciplinary, collaborative research, and
  • establishing valuable connections among peers in the field.
For more information about the 2019-2020 endMS SPRINT competition, including eligibility criteria, application guidelines, and instructions, please visit the endMS SPRINT webpage.

The Deadline for SPRINT Applications is Tuesday, February 5, 2019, by 4:00 pm Eastern time.

The 2019 endMS Summer School titled, “3 P’s of MS: Pain, Protection and rePair”, will be held from May 25-29 in Calgary, Alberta.

The Summer School program features plenary sessions, hands-on workshops, and career development sessions. It is open to applicants who are enrolled in a graduate program or hold a postdoctoral/clinical fellowship. Those enrolled in an undergraduate program (e.g., medical students) but who have previously completed graduate training are also eligible.

For more information about the 2019 endMS Summer School, including eligibility criteria, application guidelines, and instructions, please visit the endMS Summer School webpage.

The Deadline for Summer School Applications is Thursday, February 7, 2019, by 4:00 pm Eastern time.

MS researchers and clinicians gear up for a scientific conference

Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) will welcome researchers, clinicians, and trainees from around the world to Dallas, Texas for the ACTRIMS Forum 2019. The scientific conference, themed “Precision Medicine Approaches for MS: Scientific Principles to Clinical Application,” will take place February 28-March 2, 2019, and will feature presentations from leading MS experts on topics including new therapeutic targets, underlying mechanisms of disease, neuroinflammation, and MS clinical trials. For more information on this meeting, visit the ACTRIMS FORUM 2018 website. The MS Society research team will be on site reporting on the latest research in MS.

The Alberta MS Network is accepting applications for 2019 Summer Studentships

The Alberta MS network is accepting applications from students enrolled in an undergraduate program who are interested to work on multiple sclerosis-related research under the supervision of researchers in Alberta. The deadline to apply is February 22, 2019, MST. For more information and to download the application, visit the Alberta MS Network awards webpage.
Research Spotlight

Novel imaging method developed to detect chronic active lesions in progressive forms of MS

A research team, led by Dr. Doug Arnold, a world-renowned expert in MRI from McGill University, aimed to develop a method that could detect these slowly expanding lesions (SELs). The results were recently published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal. The new method using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) from 1,889 participants from three separate multiple scleroses (MS) phase III clinical trials detected slowly expanding lesions as a marker for chronic active lesions. Chronic active lesions are more prominent in progressive MS than in relapsing forms of the disease and may have the potential to inform clinical prognosis of progressive MS patients. For more details, see the MS Update.

Dr. Karen Lee is moved... to the MS Society of Canada blog

For over five years, the goal of Dr. Karen Lee’s blog has been to provide you with an insider’s view on research. This ranged from ground-breaking research to existing studies, introducing you to researchers in the field, and reporting on the MS conferences that she attended. She is excited to continue this journey at the MS Society of Canada blog: Please note that you will NOT be automatically subscribed to her posts at the MS Society blog, so you must go and subscribe. Join her at her new home for all future posts on research.
MS Society Funded Researcher

Dr. Marie-Claude Rousseau, Professor, Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit, INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier, Université du Québec

This month we are featuring Dr. Marie-Claude Rousseau, Professor in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit at the Université du Québec. Dr. Rousseau obtained a bachelor's degree (B.Sc.) in biochemistry from Université du Québec à Montréal and continued to graduate studies at McGill University, where she earned an M.Sc. (1998) and Ph.D. (2003) in Epidemiology & Biostatistics. Her research activities consist of conducting population health studies to uncover the etiology of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. She is particularly interested in factors that can have an impact on the immune response, such as vaccines and infections, and in lifestyle and environmental exposures. The identification of risk or preventive factors for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases is essential for establishing effective prevention programs. Over the last 13 years, her research has been funded by a variety of organizations including the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Santé (FRQS), the Canadian Cancer Society, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and the Quebec Ministry of Education, Leisure and Sports.

Dr. Rousseau was awarded a grant of nearly $300,000 to study the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine in MS. The BCG vaccination is normally given to protect against tuberculosis. Researchers have previously shown that the vaccine slows MS progression for a limited period. Dr. Rousseau’s interest lies in the possible association between BCG vaccination and the potentially reduced risk of developing MS, with a particular focus on vaccination in the first year of life. Thus far, Dr. Rousseau’s research team has worked with various provincial agencies to obtain information from databases on the BCG vaccine and the use of health care services for multiple sclerosis. The study will contribute to the knowledge on the causes of MS, which is necessary to establish preventive strategies. Check out the study page here.

Did you know?

Gadolinium enhanced lesion (GEL) is used to detect lesions in MS. Gadolinium is a chemical compound used to visualize tissue on MRI scans which are affected by inflammation. Gadolinium cannot normally pass enter the brain because it is a large molecule, but when there is active inflammation the barrier which separates the circulating blood and brain is ‘leaky’ and gadolinium can get through. Thus, gadolinium makes it possible to identify new or growing lesions.
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:

Pain experience and polysymptomatic distress of persons with multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease

The purpose of the research project will be to evaluate the burden of symptoms in patients with MS and Parkinson’s Disease, which will help make treating clinicians aware of these symptoms. Recognition is the first step to addressing a problem effectively. Many patients with neurological diseases (MS and Parkinson's disease in particular) experience considerable pain and other often “hidden” symptoms, such as sleep disturbance, mood disturbance, and fatigue, which contribute to the global burden of suffering. The researchers suspect that persons with MS and Parkinson’s may also experience considerable polysymptomatic distress that may be poorly recognized by the treating health care team. The research team has developed a simple online anonymous questionnaire addressing this issue. For more information visit the study page on the MS Research Portal.

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