Dr Benjamin Clarkson, the first winner of the Global Research Booster Award.

Dr Benjamin Clarkson, the first winner of the Global Research Booster Award.

The very first Global MS Research Booster Award has been presented to Dr Benjamin Clarkson.

The award, designed to recognise research achievements that are speeding up progress towards ending MS, is a collaboration between MoveS, MSIF and Stichting MS Research.

Clarkson received the award for his research, “How do neuronal responses to myelin loss contribute to progression in MS?”, which was conducted in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Jeroen Geurts from the VUmc MS Center in Amsterdam.

Edwin van Wijngaarden, co-founder of MoveS, presented the prize in the presence of an international audience, which included members of the global MS movement. In the audience was Clarkson’s father, who lives with MS. On receiving the award, Clarkson explained that his father was his inspiration for pursuing a career in MS research.

‘I want to thank my father. Without him, I would not be here today’, Clarkson explained.

The Global MS Research Booster Award consists of a grant of 162,146 EUR to fund two years of research into the causes of MS and is fully funded by MoveS. Applications for the award are open to researchers from all over the world.

Important research

At the ceremony, Clarkson also described the aim of his research. ‘The goal of my research is to discover what is driving the progression of MS. We know that different areas of the brain that are affected by MS are connected via nerve pathways. Nerve cells can both emit and receive signals – a process called backward signalling.’

‘In MS, however, the nerve processes show signs of inflammation and myelin breakdown. We can see that these signals lead to permanent changes to the nerve cell and that this process plays a significant role in the progression of MS.’

When asked why his research is important, Clarkson said, “In MS, we find abnormalities in the central nervous system, such as disturbances within the brain networks and shrinkage of the brain tissue. These abnormalities cause symptoms such as cognitive problems, fatigue and spasticity. If we understand the onset of MS progression, we can develop new strategies to treat these symptoms and stop the disease.’

Peer Baneke, CEO of MSIF, celebrated the positive impact of this new award on MS research: ‘We hope that this initiative inspires organisations in other countries to generate new funds for MS research, together with other parties’.