MSIF has awarded the 2020 Young Investigator Award to Helen Onuorah, in recognition of her research into Racial inequalities in MS research participation.

The Young Investigator Award is given for the best oral presentation of a ‘translational’ project (i.e. research that is designed to improve health and wellbeing) by a young researcher at the annual congress of the American and European Committees for Treatment and Research into Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS and ECTRIMS), which was held virtually this year: MSVirtual2020.

The winner, who receives a £1,500 GBP prize, is selected by a panel appointed by the MS International Federation.

Helen Onuorah’s presentation was titled “Racial inequalities in MS research participation: underreporting and underrepresentation”. In this project, Onuorah aimed to understand the level of involvement of people affected by MS of minority ethnicities in Phase III MS trials, and the reporting of ethnicities in trials and post-marketing studies.

She found that race is underreported in phase 3 trial outcomes publications for MS disease modifying therapies (DMTs). Remarkably, upon review of patient and healthcare professional facing websites for 15 FDA-approved MS DMTs, none of the sites reported demographic information on race.

When available, data show that minority patients are underrepresented in MS trials. Furthermore, only a small number of post-marketing studies assessed safety and efficacy of DMTs in minority populations.

This study is important because it highlights a significant inequality with impact in the care of patients and the results interpreted from clinical trials. It is essential to make this information available to patients and their healthcare professionals in order to make informed decisions about their care.

As Helen Onuorah said: “without equitable research participation, equality in care cannot be attained.”

Watch the video to find out why this award fills Helen with hope.


The very talented runner-ups were: 

  • Marinos Sotiropoulos, Relapse recovery in MS: Effect of treatment and contribution to long-term disability
  • Frederique Boonstra, Evaluation of cerebellar function scores in relation to cerebellar axonal loss in multiple sclerosis.
  • Kimystian Harrison, Central Vein Sign in Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis and MOG Antibody Associated Disease.
  • Wan-Yu Hsu, A Tablet-Based Cognitive Battery to Assess Cognitive Function in People with MS: Sensitivity to Change in A Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Giuseppina Pilloni, Manual Dexterity Improves with Cognitive Remediation in Relapsing but not in Progressive Multiple Sclerosis
  • Martina Absinta, Paramagnetic rim lesions are specific to multiple sclerosis: an international multicenter 3T MRI study