The Young Investigator Award is given for the best oral presentation of a translational project by a young researcher at the annual congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research into Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS).
The winner, who receives a £1,500 GBP prize, is selected by a panel appointed by the MS International Federation.
Dr Giacomo Boffa, from Genova in North Italy, won the 2021 Young Investigator Award. Boffa’s presentation was titled ‘Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation Reduces Disability Progression In Patients With Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis: Results From The Italian MS Register’. In this project, Dr Boffa used the Italian MS register to understand the effect of aHSCT compared to that of other immunotherapies on disability worsening in individuals with active secondary progressive MS (SPMS).They found that aHSCT patients diagnosed with SPMS are more likely to experience a sustained disability improvement compared to other DMTs
Helen Onuorah won the 2020 Young Investigator Award. 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. 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.
Dr Floor C. Loonstra won the 2019 Young Investigator Award. Dr Loonstra aimed to understand the nature of the specific reaction and the need for intervention during NTZ administration. Studying 225 patients with relapsing remitting MS, over 14,000 infusions were carried out, but only 276 infusion-related adverse events (2 %) occurred in 60 patients. A few moderate adverse events happened during infusion. None of the reactions that occurred after the infusion required intervention.These findings have direct benefits to MS patients and MS clinics, where patients have to spend less time in the hospital, which also saves the clinic’s resources.
Silke Häusser-Kinzel from Universitätsmedizin Gottingen, Germany won the 2018 Young Investigator Award for her presentation titled: ‘Immunological phenotyping identifies MS patients with accentuated immune cell activation upon anti-CD20 treatment’. New therapies can remove certain B cells that express a specific marker called CD20. Silke explained her ongoing research studying the characteristics of B cells, which aims to demonstrate that it is possible to predict which patients should not receive anti-CD20 treatment.
Charline Benoit from the ICM Brain and Spine Institute, Paris, was the 2017 award winner for her presentation titled ‘Enlargement of white matter MS lesions is associated with lesional microglial activation measured in vivo’. This talked outlined Charline’s work using positron emission tomography to investigate the role of microglial cells on MS lesion enlargement, a marker of multiple sclerosis progression.
Dr Alissa Rothman from Johns Hopkins school of Medicine, USA, was the 2016 award winner for her presentation titled ‘Retinal measurements predict 10-year disability in multiple sclerosis’ which outlined her work using Optical Coherence Tomography as a tool to predict neurodegeneration and disease progression over time in people with MS.
The award for 2015 was given to Dr Mauricio Farez from Argentina for his presentation titled ‘Melatonin contributes to the seasonality of multiple sclerosis relapses’. This work was done in collaboration with Prof Jorge Correale (FLENI, Argentina) and Prof Francis Quintana (Harvard Medical School, USA) and has recently been published in Cell (Pubmed ID: 26359987).
The 2014 winner was Dr Nicolas Schwab from the University Clinic of Münster, for his presentation entitled ‘VLA-4 blockade promotes differential routes into human CNS involving PSGL-1-rolling of T cells and MCAM-adhesion of TH17 cells’.
Dr Benedetta Bodini, a postdoctoral researcher from the Institute of Neurology in Queen Square, London, was the winner of the 2013 award for her presentation entitled ‘White and grey matter damage in early primary-progressive multiple sclerosis: the chicken or the egg?’