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Fellowship underpins great progress in genetic research

Associate Professor David Booth

Associate Professor David Booth, from the Westmead Millennium Institute, has recently concluded his MS Research Australia Senior Research Fellowship.

Associate Professor Booth’s research looked at the functions and interactions of altered genes in  MS. The MS Research Australia Senior Research Fellowships are designed to fund salary requirements for leading researchers in the MS field for an extended period, to provide the stability  they need to pursue longer term research outcomes. This Fellowship, the largest awarded by MS  Research Australia, ran for five years from 2010-2014 and received major support from the Hunt  Family Foundation and the Penn Foundation. During this time Associate Professor Booth’s research  has contributed enormously to our understanding of the genetic basis for susceptibility to MS and is showing imminent promise for the development of tests that will assist with prognosis and  treatment decisions for people with MS.

Many people with MS do not respond to the first therapy that they try and this wastes precious time, and risks damaging relapses, while an optimal treatment is identified. Associate Professor Booth’s work has identified that there is often a genetic basis to treatment response and his work may lead to tests that can identify the most suitable treatment for an individual from the outset.

This exciting progress is the result of meticulous and detailed research into the role that changes to genes may play in the development of MS, in particular, the way differences in certain genes lead to changes in the immune system function of people with MS. This in turn has revealed significant  clues on potential targets for new treatment development. Another arm of his research looks at  biomarkers, molecules that can easily be screened for in blood or cerebrospinal fluid for clinical use in MS diagnosis and prognosis.

Over the course of his Fellowship, Associate Professor Booth has published over 60 papers in  prestigious medical journals, including Nature and Nature Genetics, and has three patent applications in process, including the use of genetics to predict treatment response.

Associate Professor Booth has also been very successful in leveraging funding from other sources.  During this time he has won five National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grants  worth more than $2.5 million to further his team’s research. Starting in 2015, Associate Professor  Booth was awarded a prestigious NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship for the next five years to  continue his important work.

‘We are delighted with the substantial achievements of Associate Professor David Booth during his  MS Research Australia Senior Research Fellowship’, said Dr Matthew Miles, Chief Executive Officer of MS Research Australia, ‘These Fellowships ensure that our best minds stay focussed on MS  research to deliver better outcomes for people with MS and we would like to congratulate David on  his outstanding progress over the last five years’.

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Fellowship underpins great progress in genetic research