These outstanding research projects encompass a range of MS fields and will be able to commence this year as a direct result of this funding round. With the major collaborative platform projects and ongoing projects from previous years, MS Research Australia’s research portfolio now totals 52 active research projects.
‘We are very grateful to our all of our donors, supporters, our funding partners, the state MS Societies, the Trish MS Research Foundation, Charity Works for MS and many others for making it possible to invest in such a broad range of projects,’ said Dr Matthew Miles, MS Research Australia Chief Executive Officer. ‘We are proud that 2015 will represent another great year for investigator led MS research and look forward to ground breaking outcomes arising from this work.’
New biomedical grants will cover a range of fields, including studies investigating the genetics of MS, furthering our understanding of the association of vitamin D with MS risk, and deeper exploration of the role of the Epstein Barr Virus in MS. Several projects have a key focus on promoting repair and remyelination of the nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord.
Dr Fabienne Brilot-Turville and Associate Professor Russell Dale from the Kids Research Institute, NSW received a three-year grant to continue their investigation of antibodies to the myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG) in children and adults at risk of blindness.
MS Research Australia plays a vital role in increasing the capacity for MS research in Australia by supporting the career development of promising young MS researchers. This year, Dr Jessica Fletcher from the University of Melbourne received a three year post-doctoral fellowship, awarded in partnership with the Trish MS Research Foundation. Dr Fletcher will investigate new methods for promoting myelin repair and preventing disease progression. Dr Melissa Gresle, also from the University of Melbourne has received a Charity Works for MS/MS Research Australia post-doctoral fellowship to investigate how MS risk genes might influence the behaviour of immune cells to contribute to MS susceptibility.
New social and applied research has also received funding, including a pilot study by Dr Ollie Jay at the University of Sydney, investigating body temperature regulation in people with MS during physical activity. A significant project by Professor Andrew Palmer, from the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, will develop a statistical modelling tool to identify the treatments for relapsing-remitting MS that are the greatest value for money, with a goal to improve outcomes and optimise the use of limited healthcare resources.
Associate Professor Ingrid van der Mei at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research also received a grant to support new work that is crossing the boundaries of social and biomedical research, aiming to identify key risk factors for primary progressive MS and compare these with the known risk factors for relapsing-remitting MS.
MS Research Australia has funded over 170 research projects over the last decade and committed nearly $24 million to MS projects and collaborative platforms.