In 2007 MSIF launched the McDonald Fellowship. In its inaugural year five awards were presented with a combined value of more than £250,000 to promising young MS researchers.
Pedro Francisco Angelo Jr, Brazil
Pedro Francisco Angelo Jr, a post doctoral fellow from the Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Brazil took part in the Neuroscience Program at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA.
His work focused on testing the hypothesis that members of the kallikrein gene family are integral mediators of T-cell differentiation and therefore key players in immune mediated pathogenesis such as that occurring in MS.
Upon his return to Brazil, Dr Angelo is hoping to apply the skills he will have gained from the Mayo Clinic and become an independent investigator in the MS field. Not only does he envisage playing an active role in the development of MS therapies in Brazil but also hopes to train other researchers in the field.
Simona Budui, Romania
Simona Budui, a doctor from the Victor Babes’ National Institute of Pathology, Bucharest, Romania travelled to Italy to continue MS research at the Department of Pathology, University of Verona.
Dr Budui worked on a project regarding adipose-derived stem cell therapy in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) - an animal model of MS. It is possible to isolate many more cells from adipose (fat) tissue and the procedure is less painful than the alternative harvest of bone marrow. The project will look at using stem cells derived in this manner in arresting or reversing neurological damage caused by autoimmune demyelination.
Once she returns to Romania, she will establish an MS research field at the Victor Babes' National Institute of Pathology. Dr Budui also hopes to gain her PhD in this field.
Sara Litwak, Argentina
Sara Litwak, a postdoctoral fellow from the Neural Regeneration Unit at the Institute of Reconstructive Neurobiology, University of Bonn, Germany joined the MS Research Group at the Monash Immunology and Stem Cell Laboratories (miscl), Monash University, Victoria, Australia.
As part of the MS Research Group, Dr Litwak investigated the role of Nogo receptor expression in microglia and its relevance to autoimmune-mediated demyelination.
After completing her Fellowship funded research, Dr Litwak will return to Argentina and, through the knowledge she has gained and international contacts she has made, work to improve neuroimmunology research in the country and in the long-term aims to establish her own research line.
Kanitta Suwansrinon, Thailand
Kanitta Suwansrinon, a postdoctoral fellow from the Neurology Division at The King Chulalongkorn University Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand travelled to the Department of Neurology at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA to join the clinic's MS Research Group and work on the genetics of spontaneous central nervous system (CNS) repair following chronic demyelination.
Kanitta subsequently received a six-month extension from MSIF to enable her to complete her project. She is now returning to Thailand and will join a group setting up the first MS and Demyelinating Diseases Centre in Thailand and South East Asia.
I would like to thank MSIF who gave me the precious opportunity and supported and treated me warmly as one of the family. Because of MSIF, I can bring this crucial experience back to Thailand and continue independent MS research. Thank you very much.
Carmen Tur Gómez, Spain
Carmen Tur Gómez, a neurologist from the Clinical Neuroimmunology Unit at the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital (UNiC), Barcelona, Spain will continue her work on primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) at the Brain Repair and Rehabilitation Department, Institute of Neurology (ION), London, UK.
The facilities at the ION will enable Dr Tur Gómez to further her research into conventional and non-conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques in PPMS.
The skills and knowledge she acquires will be used in the design of new research protocols in UNiC opening up the potential for future PPMS clinical trials.