Making it Personal: Identifying Personalised Triggers of Fatigue in MS

Dr Suzanne McDonald

The University of Queensland, QLD

| Causes and Prevention | Social And Applied Research | Incubator | 2023 | Investigator Led Research |


This research study aims to discover factors that worsen feelings of fatigue in people living with multiple sclerosis (MS). Most research studies explore topics like this using scientific approaches that report the average results of a group of people, rather than the results for an individual.  

'Group-based' approaches are typically used in MS research and the data collected is assumed to represent all individuals with MS. Due to an emphasis on group-based approaches, there is a lack of knowledge about how and why fatigue symptoms fluctuate from day to day in individuals.  

Dr Suzanne McDonald and her coinvestigators will use 'N-of-1' methods to identify personalised patterns and triggers of fatigue in individuals with MS. N-of-1 studies involve repeated outcome measurements in the same individual over time, to draw conclusions specific to that individual.  

She will explore personal patterns and triggers of fatigue by asking people with MS and fatigue to take part in a 6-week N-of-1 study, where they will be required to answer a few brief questions about fatigue and triggers on a daily basis.  

It is important to explore whether people with MS will be able and willing to participate in N-of-1 research. Therefore, participants will be interviewed at the end of the study to find out their views about the study design and procedures. If the methods are found to be feasible and acceptable to people with MS, the N-of-1 design can be extended to testing treatments for MS symptoms at the individual patient level, providing personalised results for each patient.   

Updated: 22 February, 2023

Stages of the research process

Fundamental laboratory

Laboratory research that investigates scientific theories behind the possible causes, disease progression, ways to diagnose and better treat MS.

Lab to clinic timeline: 10+ years

Research that builds on fundamental scientific research to develop new therapies, medical procedures or diagnostics and advances it closer to the clinic.

Lab to clinic timeline: 5+ years
Clinical Studies
and Clinical Trials

Clinical research is the culmination of fundamental and translational research turning those research discoveries into treatments and interventions for people with MS.

Lab to clinic timeline: 1-5 years


Total Funding

  • $25,000


  • 1 year – starting 2023

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Making it Personal: Identifying Personalised Triggers of Fatigue in MS