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Research in Action

May 2016
Latest research news and updates from the MS Society of Canada

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Table of Contents

Research Profiles

MS Society of Canada MS Biker and Returning Community Representative, Karen Tweed

Photo of Karen Tweed
Champion MS Biker, fundraiser and a veteran community representative, Karen Tweed is a fierce leader and advocate on behalf of people living with multiple sclerosis (MS). Karen hasn’t let her diagnosis of MS stop her from being actively involved with the MS Society of Canada. Karen has signed up for the MS Biking to the Biking group for three years in a row, and in 2015 she was known as the ‘Inspirational Champion’ for the group in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Karen also participated as a community representative the MS Society’s Operating Grant independent review committee in 2015 and 2016, which she found to be an empowering experience since it gave her an opportunity to advocate not only for herself but for others living with MS.

As a physically active individual, Karen spends her time either horseback riding on her horse named “Slew”, sharing a bike ride or kayaking with her boyfriend. It’s no wonder then that she saw the 2015 MS Wellness Survey as an opportunity to present her views and priorities on physical activity and other aspects of wellness. “Sharing personal stories is important for people living with MS to understand the type of information that is lacking,” she explains when asked about the importance of the survey. “This will help direct research so that the most relevant issues are given priority.” When asked about the type of research she would like to see in the future, Karen says “I would love to see research that backs up the anecdotal stories that exercise, mental and emotional health care, and diet can improve not only quality of life, but better yet have a protective effect, so that more people living with MS and health care providers are motivated to incorporate a wellness strategy in treatment plans.”

If you are interested in gearing up for our endMS Bike event, visit the website to either donate or register today for your nearest location!

Research Events and Funding Opportunities

MS Research studies seeking participants!

One way the MS Society encourages participation in scientific research and clinical trials is through the MS Research Portal. The Portal includes a list of non-pharmaceutical or privately funded studies happening across Canada that are seeking participants who are affected by MS. Two recently added studies include one led by Dr. Sarah Morrow from London, ON, which is looking at memory training techniques as a form of rehabilitation to improve attention deficits in MS, and the other by Dr. Anthony Feinstein from Toronto, ON, which involves cognitive assessments and MRI scans to examine the impact of medical cannabis use in MS. If you are a researcher and would like to post your study, or if you are a person affected by MS who wants to take part in a study, visit

MS Society advocates for more progressive MS research during MS Awareness Month

May is MS Awareness Month and World MS Day is on May 25. A number of important activities are taking place across the MS Society to honour MS Awareness Month and embrace the theme of independence. On the research front, the MS Society recently closed the pre-application stage for the Hermes Canada | MS Society Wellness Research Innovation Grant Competition. After the review, applicants will then be invited to submit a full application. In addition, members of the MS Society’s research team along with other staff and volunteers were at Parliament Hill in Ottawa on May 4 to meet with MPs and raise important MS-related issues, such as the need for income supports, importance of a national caregiver strategy, and more research on progressive MS.

University of Texas seeking Post-Doc Research Associate

The Neuroscience and Psychometrics Research Lab (NPR) at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTDallas) and The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW) is seeking a post-doctoral research associate in functional brain imaging of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The research is focused on understanding MS-related changes in neural and vascular functions using advanced neuroimaging techniques including; perfusion MRI, calibrated functional MRI (fMRI), and metabolic imaging, gas-challenge MRI, and electroencephalogram (EEG). For more information check out the online job posting.

The University of Texas at Dallas is an Equal Opportunity / Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, citizenship status, Vietnam era or special disabled veteran’s status, or sexual orientation. UT Dallas strongly encourages applications from candidates who would enhance the diversity of the University’s faculty, staff, and administration.

Interested candidates should submit a cover letter and curriculum vitae to:

Dr. Bart Rypma
University of Texas at Dallas
School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Green Hall, GR41
Box 830688
800 West Campbell Road
Richardson, TX 75080-3021

MS Updates

MS Society-funded research team develops and tests a new compound to promote myelin repair in mice

Credits: Keough et al. Nat Commun. 2016

The human body turns on a complex repair program whenever myelin is damaged, but in multiple sclerosis this repair system can break down. Scientists from the University of Calgary led by MS-funded researcher Dr. V. Wee Yong have studied a family of molecules that interfere with the growth of myelin-producing cells. In a newly published study, Dr. Wee Yong’s team set out to test a drug they developed to see if it can block the production of these interfering molecules and pave the way for a new myelin-repair therapy. Read more…

MS Society-funded team devises a new technique to peer into the movement of myelin-forming cells

Scientists from Ottawa Hospital Research Institute led by Dr. Rashmi Kothary have developed an innovative technique that they can use to study the movement of myelin-producing cells through the brain. Their system, described in a recently published study, will make it easier for scientists to answer important questions about how these cells interact with a variety of molecules found in and around multiple sclerosis lesions, with the goal of identifying a new target for remyelinating therapies. Read more…

MS Society-funded study shows that variations in vein anatomy of the neck are not limited to people living with MS

Credits: Wikimedia Commons
Chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) describes a theory proposing that multiple sclerosis is caused by abnormalities in the anatomy and blood flow of the veins in the head and neck. A new study published by Dr. Carlos Torres (University of Ottawa) and a team of collaborators used powerful imaging technology to examine vein anatomy in people living without MS. The goal was to answer the question: are differences in vein anatomy linked only with MS or are they simply a source of natural variation in the general population? Read more…

In Other MS News…

Website and Research Blog

In late April, MS Society Vice-President, Research Dr. Karen Lee and her team attended the 68th American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting in Vancouver, BC. The meeting, which attracts more than 10,000 neurologists and basic researchers from around the world every year, presents a forum for members of the research and clinical communities to present their latest cutting-edge work to peers, exchange information and ideas, and form collaborations with the goal of advancing diagnosis and treatment of neurological diseases like MS. The conference also offers intensive education programming so that clinicians can test their knowledge and stay up to date on the best clinical practices for disease treatment and management.

This year, the MS-related programming covered topics including new insights from animal and cell models, treatment strategies and clinical outcomes, risk factors, advanced imaging techniques, pediatric MS, and the latest findings from clinical trials. For a detailed account of the findings and breakthroughs presented at the conference, consult the research blog at
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