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Western Australian projects studying the environmental factors influencing MS

The awarding of new MS Research Australia grants, which in 2015 totalled almost $1.9 million in funding, is the result of an extensive grant review process undertaken by the MS Research Australia Research Management Council (RMC). It is through this rigorous process that MS Research Australia is able to identify the best research projects to award funding.

In the most recent RMC round of applications, three Western Australian projects were successful, with funding awarded to Dr David Nolan, Professor Robyn Lucas, and Mr Will Kermode.

Dr David Nolan, from Murdoch University, received a two-year MS Research Australia Project Grant to study the contribution of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection to MS. This project will investigate the influence of the EBV infection on immune system function, with the potential to help guide the development of new monitoring and treatment strategies.

Professor Robyn Lucas, from the Telethon Kids Institute, received a one-year MS Research Australia Project Grant to study the role of several different forms of vitamin D in the onset of MS. This work will help to refine our understanding of how vitamin D may benefit people at high risk of MS, and potentially lead to development of vitamin D-related compounds to lower the risk of developing MS.

Mr Will Kermode is an undergraduate student who received a MS Research Australia Vacation Scholarship, see our recent article on Will’s project here. Under the supervision of Professor Prue Hart from the Telethon Kids Institute, Will’s project provided valuable experience for the undergraduate student and also generated novel experiments that Professor Hart will continue in her lab, looking at the effects of UV radiation on the immune system.

The MS Research Australia grant awards are possible through the valuable support of the state MS societies which, over the past ten years, have contributed around one-third of the total research funding awarded by MS Research Australia to researchers around the country. Each MS society has contributed a percentage of funds to MS Research Australia, and these funds go towards the research of greatest need.

In 2015, the MS Society of Western Australia (MSWA) has provided generous contributions to MS Research Australia that are directed towards supporting a range of Australian research projects, including major research platforms such as the Vitamin D Prevention Trial, the MS Research Australia Brain Bank and the Autologous Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Registry, and also support a number of investigator-led research grants, including the above three projects. Each of these projects is helping to find another piece of the puzzle to understand the triggers of MS and identifying potential new treatment strategies.

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Western Australian projects studying the environmental factors influencing MS