It was way back in February 1972 that the state MS societies, after much deliberation, passed resolutions to establish a national body – the National Multiple Sclerosis Society of Australia – a body that eventually evolved into MS Australia.
We have come a long way in those 50 years, but the mission hasn’t changed. We remain focused on finding a cure by funding the best research and supporting those living with MS through advocacy, education and awareness.
So, it’s fitting that in our 50th year, we are able to make a record investment in MS research totalling almost $7m. This has been made possible through your steadfast support, the support you give to our fundraising events, especially The May 50K, and the support of the Member Organisations – MS Limited, MSWA, MS Queensland and MS SA & NT.
This outstanding, leading-edge research program is your research program – funded by you, supported by you, and dedicated to all who live with MS, their family, friends, supporters and carers.
This research program and the researchers we collectively support are propelling us ever closer to both a cure and to improving the quality of life for all those living with MS. We do this through a tight focus on five clear goals:
- Fund the best research to find cures for MS and prevent MS from happening in the first place
- Fund the best research to manage MS and improve quality of life for people living with MS
- Facilitate translation and implementation of research outcomes – taking research from the lab and into the community
- Build capacity of the research workforce, so we attract and keep the best researchers in the MS space
- Collaborate with partners nationally and globally to maximise outcomes and our chances of success
We do this through our annual competitive grant round but also through seven national collaborative platforms, including:
- MS Australia Brain Bank – to coordinate the collection, storage and distribution of neurological tissue from people with and without MS for use in research in Australia and across the world
- Australian MS Longitudinal Study – to capture the voices directly from people living with MS, now in its 20th year
- InforMS – an online MS portal to improve healthcare for people with MS
- ANZGene – a major genetics collaboration looking for genes involved in susceptibility and progression of MS
- MS Clinical Trial Platform and website – to link people with MS with clinical trials in Australia and New Zealand
- Australian MS AHSCT Registry – to track outcomes of people who have undergone AHSCT for MS
- PrevANZ – our clinical trial testing whether vitamin D can prevent MS in those most at risk
And now, we are looking at the possibility of adding a fresh platform, focussing on accelerating treatments for people with progressive forms of MS.
Research is dramatically changing the lives of people with MS. With the advent of disease modifying therapies, the chances of leading a near normal life are better for people diagnosed today with the most common form of MS than ever before.
But there’s a long way to go with repair and regeneration – the goal of much of the research we fund. And the more we learn, the more we know, the closer we are getting to repairing the damage wrought by MS. The more I talk to our world-class researchers, the more I am convinced that the breakthroughs we all seek are within reach.
That’s why we are completely committed to supercharging our research agenda.
But of course, that’s not all. We are wholly committed to supercharging our advocacy for all those living with MS. We’re in the process of beefing up our advocacy work and are currently recruiting our first ever Head of Advocacy to work in partnership with people living with MS and our Member Organisations across issues and programs ranging from the NDIS and aged care to adaptive technology and access to neurologists, MS nurses and allied health professionals.
Our 50th year is a time not only to take stock but to firmly push the pedal to the metal. There remains much to be done.