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

Karma Deakin-Harb is a community representative for the MS Society of Canada where she participates in the research review process. In this role, she aims to serve as a champion for everyone living with MS to ensure the research funded by the MS Society of Canada is relevant to people affected by MS. While the subject matter experts weigh in on the science, she can provide a perspective from someone who lives with MS and can provide a different perspective. Karma is extremely passionate about research related to exercise and MS and how it can help people with MS in the longer term.

In addition, Karma has become a spokesperson for MS in Edmonton and fundraises and participates in the MS Bike. She remembers a moment during the MS Bike on the second day of the ride when it was rainy, windy and cold and she wasn’t sure if she could continue. During this moment, she reminded herself that there are many people who can’t participate in the MS Bike and she needed to keep going to do it for them.

When asked what inspires her to get involved with the MS community, she says, “it is the strength of all those people living with MS that gives me the courage to speak and tell my own story. It is amazing what people can do when they all come together for a common cause. The number one thing, is the need to find a cure for MS, and we are getting closer and closer and I want to be part of it.”
Research Events and Funding Opportunities

MS Walk and MS Bike gear up for another season!

Beginning in the Spring, thousands of Canadians come together in their communities to fundraise for and participate in MS Walk and MS Bike. They take a stand against MS and support those who are affected by multiple sclerosis. Take the next step and join us as we work to build a more hopeful future for Canadians living with MS. Visit the MS Walk and MS Bike page for more information.

MS Society partners with CIHR to fund research on cannabis

The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada announced a partnership with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to provide $1.5 million in funding for cannabis and MS research. The funding will go towards research into the use of cannabis to manage symptoms associated with MS and its effect on the disease. The $1.5 million investment will span over five years to help accelerate cannabis health research in MS. Applications involving basic science, clinical, health services, and policy research approaches will be considered. The deadline for letters of intent were due on May 15, 2019. MS Society will provide updates on this competition. Refer to MS Society Funding Opportunities webpage for more information.
Research Spotlight

Supporting the next generation of MS researchers, featuring Marc-André Lécuyer

The MS Society supports the next generation of MS researchers so that research advances continue, and Canada remains a leader in MS research. We have developed a new monthly blog series called Faces Behind the Science to highlight trainees in MS research. Learn more about the inner workings of MS research and get to know the people working behind the scenes to bring us closer to a cure. Subscribe to the blog for more information.

We feature Marc-André Lécuyer, a postdoctoral fellow from the University of Gottingen. Marc-André’s project is identifying molecules that control the opening of the blood-brain barrier. In MS patients, this barrier is open and the goal of his research is to make sure it stays closed. To learn more about the researcher and his project, visit our blog here.

MS Society will provide travel awards to trainees attending the ISN satellite meeting on myelin biology

The 14th Satellite Meeting on Myelin Biology will be held from August 1-4, 2019 at Le Baluchon Eco-Resort in Saint-Paulin, Quebec. This meeting will bring together investigators and trainees and will include topics such as myelin stability and plasticity, demyelination, immune trafficking and demyelinating disease. The MS Society of Canada will provide up to five (5) travel awards in the amount of $1,000 each to trainees who work on MS and whose abstracts are accepted for poster or oral presentations. For more information about the conference and to register, visit the meeting site.

Educational Webinar: Pregnancy and Multiple Sclerosis

You are invited to our latest education webinar: Pregnancy and Multiple Sclerosis featuring Dr. Sadovnick and Ms. Rebecca Scott Rawn. This webinar will be approximately 45-minutes in length and take place on Tuesday, June 11 starting at 3:00 PM EDT.

Dr. Sadovnick will discuss various issues in the decision-making process about reproduction including topics such as the safety of MS therapies, fertility, breastfeeding, and relapses, as well as the ongoing Canada-wide project “CANPREG-MS”. Dr. Sadovnick is a Professor of Medical Genetics and Neurology at the University of British Columbia and currently leads the CANPREG-MS Study, a Canada-wide prospective study of women with MS who are pregnant or who are planning a pregnancy.

Ms. Rebecca Scott Rawn, a communication and coaching expert and MS Ambassador, will share her experience of "flare ups, meltdowns, and workarounds" she managed through her pregnancies.

For more on the event and our speakers, please visit our registration page:
Spotlight: MS Society Funded Researcher

Dr. Jennifer Gommerman, Professor, Department of Immunology, University of Toronto

Dr. Jennifer Gommerman received her Ph.D. (Immunology) at the University of Toronto in 1998. She went on to do a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School studying the complement pathway and then joined Biogen Inc. as a Staff Scientist in 2000.

During her tenure at Biogen, she became interested in B cells, Multiple Sclerosis and the TNF superfamily of molecules. After 3 years in industry, she returned to academia as an Assistant Professor (Immunology) at the University of Toronto in 2003, and in 2015 was promoted to full Professor. In 2014, she assumed the role of Graduate Coordinator and in this role, she spearheaded a new Applied MSc program in Immunology.

Dr. Gommerman’s basic research continues to focus on how members of the TNF superfamily of molecules regulate immunity and autoimmunity. With respect to translational work, Dr. Gommerman has been examining the role of B lymphocytes in Multiple Sclerosis patients, and she is the lead PI on a study examining the effect of global migration on susceptibility to autoimmune disease. Learn more about Dr. Gommerman.

Did you know?

MS is a chronic disease that evolves over time, and one approach to understanding progression is to establish a unique Canadian cohort (or group of people) who are willing to participate in the study over time to shed light on the following key questions: why do certain individuals progress? How does progression affect their physical symptoms, adherence to and impact of treatments, and their ability to obtain employment and participate meaningfully in the community and healthcare system? Ultimately, this information aims to influence the management of all forms of MS, and the development of solutions that enable people living with MS to live an improved quality of life, and serve as a resource and model for the study of other neurological diseases. Read more about CanProCo, a Canadian cohort study that aims to understand MS and the factors that govern progression. See opportunities to participate - link.
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. The study will establish a prospective CANPREG-MS study that will identify pregnancies in women with MS, obtain information on the disease and the medications used for MS treatment at conception, during gestation (pregnancy) and while breast-feeding if appropriate. It will follow mothers and their infants from conception to one year postpartum (i.e. after delivery) to determine the health status of mothers and their babies. It will also include women with MS who are planning a pregnancy.

For more information and to participate in the study, visit the study page on the MS Research Portal.

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