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January 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 Research Operations Manager: Tina Smith

Tina SmithThe arrival of the New Year welcomes the commencement of the MS Society’s Annual Independent Review. The research department received an overwhelming response in the amount of applications for Operating Grants (Biomedical and Clinical and Population Health) and Studentship/Fellowship Awards. A key person who manages the logistics and oversees the review process is Research Operations Manager, Tina Smith.

Managing the operations and logistics for review week is no easy task. Currently, the MS Society of Canada has three research review committees: Personnel, Biomedical Research and Clinical and Population Health Research. In addition to managing the Annual Independent Review, Tina is responsible for new competitions that address topics such as wellness and progressive MS, and working as IT extraordinaire in managing the MS Society’s online grants management system, Easygrants. When asked about managing Easygrants, she said, “It is critical to test launches on Easygrants by tracking notifications, managing document uploads, among other tasks. Essentially, we’re constantly testing the system to make it more accessible for our reviewers and community representatives”

Since joining the MS Society in 2013, Tina has kept busy overseeing the administration of funding for a number of exciting projects, such as the MS Society’s collaborations with the Progressive MS Alliance, Centre for Drug Research and Development and National Multiple Sclerosis Society (Fast Forward). When asked what she enjoys most about her role, Tina says, “I enjoy meeting all of the reviewers, both scientific and lay, as well as the researchers and trainees we fund. I spend so much time behind the scenes managing applications and agreements that it's always nice to put a face to a name”

Research Events and Funding Opportunities

MS Society’s research department gears up for grant review

Preparations are underway for another week of grant review at the MS Society. Grant review is a process by which scientific experts and members of the public meet in person to discuss applications from researchers who are seeking funding. Throughout the week three different review committees will meet to discuss applications for operating grants— which support multi-year projects led by academic investigators and clinicians— as well as studentship (Master’s and Doctoral) and postdoctoral fellowship awards. This is the fourth year that the MS Society is involving members of the public— called community representatives— in the research review process. For more information on the grant review process visit the MS Society website.

Researcher in B.C. hosts event to talk microbiome and MS

MS Society funded researcher Dr. Helen Tremlett from the Pharmacoepidemiology in Multiple Sclerosis Research Group at the University of British Columbia will lead a half day event to discuss gut microbiome research and its relation to brain health. This comes shortly after the announcement of funding for Dr. Tremlett to further understand the role that gut bacteria play in MS in children. The event, titled “From Bugs to Brains: the gut microbiome in neurological health” is slated for February 5th, 2016 at 8:20am-12pm at the UBC campus. For more information check out the UBC website.

endMS Summer School and SPRINT launched

The MS Society recently announced that the endMS Summer School and endMS Scholar Program for Researchers IN Training (SPRINT) competitions are now open! These training programs are aimed at enhancing knowledge and skills related to MS research among young investigators. Applications are due on Monday February 8th, 2016 for SPRINT and Friday February 12th, 2016, for Summer School. For more information visit the MS Society website.

Hosting an MS research event in your community? Submit it to msresearchgrants@mssociety.ca to be featured in Research in Action!

MS Updates

Beyond risk factors: Can vitamin D promote repair of nerve tissue in MS?

A great deal of evidence proposes that vitamin D deficiency is associated with a higher risk of multiple sclerosis. But for people already living with MS, a more pressing question is: can vitamin D have potential therapeutic benefits and repair any damage that has taken place? Researchers at the University of Cambridge investigated the way in which vitamin D can spur specialized cells that produce myelin— the sheath around nerve fibres that is attacked in MS— into repairing damage using a combination of studies using cells in a “dish” and animals with an MS-like disease. Read more…

Promising neuroprotective protein at the middle of an MS Society-funded study

In multiple sclerosis, specialized white blood cells cross over into the brain and spinal cord where they target the body’s own nerve cells. One of the ways in which these white blood cells destroy the nerve tissue is with an enzyme called granzyme B. With support from the MS Society, researchers from the University of Alberta tested a molecule that obstructs granzyme B in mice with an MS-like disease to see if it can reduce nerve tissue loss and improve symptoms. Read more…

Intricate “net” of tissue and immune cells in the brain may be fueling inflammation in progressive MS

People living with progressive multiple sclerosis respond poorly to current MS immune-modifying therapies, suggesting that inflammation may be playing less of a role in progressive MS. New evidence, however, demonstrates that inflammation may actually be involved in progressive MS, albeit in a different way. With the support of the MS Scientific Research Foundation, researchers from University of Toronto led by Dr. Jennifer Gommerman conducted a study to show that inflammatory cells “set up shop” inside the brain and cause ongoing damage to nerve cells. Read more…

In Other MS News…

Research Blog

As 2015 came to a close, MS Society Vice-President, Research Dr. Karen Lee reflected on some of the many accomplishments throughout the year that maintained momentum towards finding a cure for MS. On her Research Blog, Dr. Lee highlighted the MS Society’s various new and ongoing research initiatives, including MS Research Town Hall, the MS Wellness Survey, and the launch of this monthly bulletin. She also took some time to celebrate advances in the areas of progressive MS, wellness, and possible MS triggers that are likely to deliver new approaches to treating MS and managing its symptoms. Thanks to the dizzying rate of new research devoted to uncovering the full story behind vitamin D and MS, Dr. Lee recapped some of the latest breakthroughs in vitamin D research that focus on its budding potential as a therapeutic option.

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