In 2009, MSIF awarded 14 Du Pré Grants to enable researchers to travel to work on short term MS projects in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, UK and the USA.
Afsaneh, a physician from Tehran, will use the £4600 grant to visit Dr Emmanuelle Waubant at the University of California San Fransisco (UCSF) MS Center in the USA for four months, to work on ‘Demographic and clinical predictors of response to first-line disease modifying therapies for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis’.
The £5000 grant enabled Ashish, a third year Masters student from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, to visit Dr Kenneth Shindler from the University of Pennsylvania, USA for three months. His work showed that viral (MHV) infection could cause optic nerve inflammation, axonal loss and demyelination in a mouse model of MS.
In MS research one of the open questions is to understand whether MS is absolutely a demyelinating disease or axonal loss is a concurrent process with myelin loss. Our studies aim to dissect out the mechanisms of axonal loss and demyelination in the optic nerve which is a white matter track, in an animal model. In future this study will shed some light about the potential mechanisms of concurrent demyelination and axonal loss in MS patients.
Chiara, a second year PhD student from the Clinical Neuroimmunology Unit, Istituto di Neurologia Sperimentale (INSPE)-San Raffaele of Milan in Italy, will use her £5000 grant to visit Prof. Owens at the Medical Biotechnology Center of Odense in Denmark for six months, to investigate the role of anti-inflammatory cytokines on innate glial responses and leukocyte infiltration in the CNS.
Fereshteh, a PhD student from Tarbiat Modares University in Tehran, Iran, will use the £5000 grant to spend six months with Dr Barbara Demeneix at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris, France to study ‘Migration potential of NSCs to LPC-induced demyelinated optic nerve and chiasma in response to Nogo signaling inhibition in mice’.
Such a scientific visit helped me to accomplish my research objectives and would enable us to employ these methods to use a new strategy to study different aspects of multiple sclerosis in the future.
Lekha, a clinical neurologist from the KS Hegde Medical Academy in Mangalore, India, will use her £3500 grant to visit the University of Cambridge, UK, where she will work with Dr Stephen Sawcer for three months on the role of HLA genes in Indian Multiple Sclerosis. Lekha found that that disease susceptibility genes in MS in the Indian population may be similar to that of western populations.
This award has given me an opportunity to boost my research capabilities and generate data which is new for my country. With the publication that could arise from this work,I hope to replicate this data in larger studies in India through funding generated from agencies within my country.
Lorna, a medical student from the University of Edinburgh, used her £3390 grant to travel to Boston, USA for two months, where she worked with Dr Charles Guttmann from the Brigham and Women's Hospital, on two projects using ‘subtraction imaging’ in MS. One project involved use of data from a trial of oral interferon to determine the sensitivity of subtraction imaging to new lesions which also enhanced with Gadolinium (Gd). She was also involved in an ongoing project which aims to determine the predictive value of number and volume of lesions on subtraction images using data from the CLIMB study.
Both projects enabled me to develop my generic research skills, including data management, methodological design, project planning, time management and teamwork. Due to the volume of data generated during my placement, data analyses are ongoing. I hope to contribute to abstracts and papers related to this work to develop my academic writing and presentation skills.
The £5000 grant will enable Lucas, an MD from the Technische Universität in Munich, Germany, to spend three months at Imperial College in London, UK, where he will be working with Prof. Reynolds on the characterisation of Th17 and Treg cells in tissue and CSF samples of MS patients.
With the aid of the £5000 grant, Lucia, an Italian PhD student from the Catholic University Medical School in Rome, travelled to the University of Illinois, Chicago, USA to work with Dr Feinstein on characterizing the involvement of the heat shock response in the development of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). She also examined possible interactions between HSP90 and mTOR signaling. Beneficial effects of such drug combinations may be relevant to MS patients, as there are currently no valid therapeutic options for chronic progressive MS and these drugs display therapeutic effects on chronic progressive EAE.
I am greatly thankful to Multiple Sclerosis International Federation for this opportunity and I want to underline that this Award represented an advance in my career and a precious help for me to realize my plans.
Michelle, a neurologist from the Oregon Health and Science University in the USA, used her £3,150 grant to visit Dr Stephen Lord in Sydney, Australia for one month, where she helped develop two studies on falls and balance in MS. The first study examined physiologic fall risk factors in 200 people with MS, while the second study examined the effects of fatigue and a novel ankle foot orthosis on gait and balance in people with MS. Michelle also learned about the development of the PPA, a test battery developed by Dr. Lord to predict and determine physiologic risk factors for falls, which she will use in her study of balance mechanisms in MS.
Dr. Lord and I have been invited to submit our review of 'Postural control and falls in MS' to the journal Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports. I expect that I will contribute in the future to 3-5 papers about the studies I helped design and execute during my visit to POWMRI.
The £2075 grant helped Mukanthu, a Malawian PhD student from Nottingham University in the UK to work with Dr Amit Bar-O at the McGill University in Canada for two months. The aim of this visit was to learn techniques to define the cytokine producing phenotype of regulatory and effector T cells in co-culture, in order to understand the role of Toll-like receptors in modulating Treg functions. Mukanthu found that a bacterial lipoprotein, an agonist for TLR2/1 heterodimer, was able to reduce the suppressive functions of human Tregs in vitro, supporting the hypothesis that certain infections may facilitate exacerbations in patients with Multiple sclerosis by causing transient loss of Treg suppression.
I was very impressed by the exciting and dynamic academic atmosphere and the friendliness and generosity of Dr Bar-Or’s group. I am confident that as a result of the visit, ongoing contact between our groups will be intensified.
Shiva, an Iranian PhD student from the Tarbiat Modares University in Tehran, will use the £5000 grant to travel to the Göttingen Medical School in Germany for six months to work with Dr Paul Lingor, studying the effect of manipulation of signalling-molecules on the symptoms and endogenous neural stem cell migration in EAE model of multiple sclerosis in mice.
The £5000 grant will help Tamara, an MD from the Hospital Donostia, San Sebastian, Spain, to study the effects of switching to Natalizumab or immunosuppressant in MS patients with breakthrough disease on first-line disease modifying therapy. Tamara will spend six months at the UCSF Multiple Sclerosis Center, USA with Dr Emmanuelle Waubant.