The Ian Ballard Travel Awards are designed to allow Australian researchers to travel overseas to extend their skills and collaborate with leaders in the field of MS research. Dr Black has received an Ian Ballard Travel Award to support her work investigating the vitamin D pathway in MS.
Vitamin D is found in our diets and is formed in the skin upon exposure to sunlight. Studies have shown that Vitamin D is related to the risk of developing MS. However it is not clear which components of the vitamin D pathway are involved, or whether the effect is related to sun exposure or dietary vitamin D supplementation, and whether these are also influenced by skin tone or ethnicity.
With this grant, Dr Black will travel to the laboratories of Dr Annette Langer-Gould at Kaiser Permanente in California, USA, to analyse vitamin D in samples from the US-based MS Sunshine Study and the Australian AusImmune study.
Dr Lucinda Black, from Curtain University in Perth, WA, recently used the Ian Ballard Travel Award to travel to Pasadena, California, USA to develop a collaboration with Dr Annette Langer-Gould and her team at the Kaiser Permanente Research Centre. Dr Black is investigating dietary vitamin D, its processing in the body and the risk of developing MS using the AusImmune study. During her visit, she learnt new important statistical methods that will help her to tease apart the relationship between dietary intake and disease outcomes using the data from the AusImmune study. During her visit Dr Black and Dr Langer-Gould co-authoured two papers and grant applications for future collaborative studies that will be submitted to the USA National MS Society and the National Institute of Health (USA). They will also work together on training the next generation of MS researchers through shared supervision of a PhD student who will undertake an important study to analyse combined data from the Australian Ausimmune study and the US-based MS Sunshine Forward Study.
Developing these international collaborations will place Australian researchers at the forefront of research into MS, and will allow their results to have a greater impact for people with MS worldwide.
Updated 9th June 2017
Updated: 01 January, 2016