MS Research and Resources

For more than 20 years, the CMSC has been applying research findings in specific areas of MS care to improve patient outcomes. With a network of more than 150 North American CMSC Member Centers, the CMSC is positioned for collaborative research opportunities.

While this alone would be a significant accomplishment, experts agree that further research is necessary to gain a deeper understanding of fundamental MS channels, such as:

  • Quality of Life outcomes;
  • Impact of Comprehensive Care;
  • Neuroimaging;
  • Immunology;
  • Symptom management;
  • Physical therapy/rehabilitation;
  • Psychosocial issues/depression.
MS ResearchJohn Whitaker Research track, 2011

CMSC Collaborative Research Grants

Named Study Grant Awards to Recognize Excellence and Potential for CMSC Pilot Study Research Opportunities

Jennifer Graves and Gabriele De LucaA Research Study Grant Award, named in honor of John F. Kurtzke, MD, has been established and awarded to Gabriele De Luca, MD, PhD, in 2010/2011 and Jennifer Graves, MD, PhD in 2012.  Dr Kurtzke is widely recognized for his contributions to epidemiological and multiple sclerosis clinical research.

This research award is funded through an FCMSC grant by Questcor Pharmaceuticals, Inc.



Steven R. Schwid Memorial Study Grant AwardSteven R. Schwid Memorial Study Grant Award
Supported through an FCMSC grant from Teva Neuroscience

Dr. Schwid, a CMSC member noted for his contributions to neurology research and multiple sclerosis trial design, is honored through an annual CMSC research study grant award. Awards for 2010-2011 will be made by the CMSC Research Committee in late 2010.

The first CMSC study grant award in honor of the late Steven R. Schwid, MD, FAAN, was presented to Susan Bennett, PT, EdD, NCS, MSCS, Clinical Associate Professor, Departments of Rehabilitation Science and Neurology at the University of Buffalo, for her group’s submission, “Validity, Reliability and Sensitivity of Three Gait Measures for MS.”

The FCMSC also collaborated with the CMSC in funding a second 2009 study grant, “Exploring the Potential of Nintendo Wii to Promote Exercise in Persons with MS”, submitted by Marcia Finlayson, PhD, OT(C), OTR/L, from the University of Illinois, Chicago. This is an innovative project using 21st century technology that will assess the participation and patient outcomes of self-directed activity and exercise in people with multiple sclerosis. It will build upon previous evidence that supports the benefit of this strategy in older adults.


Whitaker Award for MS Research

John Whitaker, MD

This award is presented to young and emerging scientists whose works are deemed to have substantial promise to increase the understanding of the pathophysiology, immunology, genetics and/or epidemiology of MS. It is named in honor of John Whitaker, MD, a pioneer and role model in MS research, particularly interested in the immunological and chemical aspects of neurological and neuromuscular disorders.

Since the inception of the CMSC’s Whitaker Track, now chaired by Dr. Michael Racke, the Foundation of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis (FCMSC) has been pleased to present the Whitaker Prize for MS Research, supported by grants from EMD Serono.


Whitaker Research Award Winners


Fear of Falling and Concern about Falling in Individuals with Relapsing-Remitting MS and Progressive MS


Taylor N. Takla, Wayne State University
Patricia N. Matsuda, University of Washington
Tracy E Herring, University of Washington Medical Center
Nora E. Fritz, Wayne State University
Ana M. Daugherty, Wayne State University

Targeted CSF Proteomics as a Tool For Analyzing Immunophenotype Heterogeneity In Multiple Sclerosis


Saurabh Kumar, BS, Department of Dermatology, University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, Worcester, MA | Department of Neurology, University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center, Worcester, MA
Khashayar Afshari, MD, MPH, Department of Dermatology, University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, Worcester, MA
Alexandra Rabin, BA, University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center, Worcester, MA
Farnaz Khalighinejad, MD, University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center, Worcester, MA
Nimmy Francis, PhD, MBBS, University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center, Worcester, MA
Fatima Qutab, University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, Worcester, MA
Danny Kwong, University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, Worcester, MA
Irina Radu, MD, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, Worcester, MA Idanis Berrios-Morales, MD, Department of Neurology, University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center, Worcester, MA
Christopher Hemond, MD, Department of Neurology, University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center, Worcester, MA Dalia Abou Zeki, MD, Atrium Health Neurosciences Institute Neurology Kenilworth, Charlotte, NC
Jillian M Richmond, PhD, Department of Dermatology, University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, Worcester, MA
and Carolina Ionete, MD, PhD, Department of Neurology, University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center, Worcester

Utility of the Nih Toolbox Cognition Battery in Multiple Sclerosis


Anita Shankar, M.S., Heena R. Manglani, M.A., Oyetunde Gbadeyan, Ph.D. and Ruchika S. Prakash, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

Dysfunctional RNA Binding Protein Biology As Contributors to the Pathogenesis of Autoimmune Disease of the Central Nervous System


Hannah Salapa, University of Saskatchewan
Cole Libner, University of Saskatchewan
Kara Tastad, University of Saskatchewan
Michael C. Levin, University of Saskatchewan

Award Presented to Nora Fritz, PhD, DPT, PT by Dr. Michael Racke

Establishing the Relationship of Quantitative Vibratory Sensation and Sensory Cortical Areas in Multiple Sclerosis


Nora E. Fritz, PhD, PT, DPT, NCS, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI

Impacts of Dalfampridine on Interhemispheric Relationships in MS


Ioan Belovarski, BS , Mind Research Network, Albuquerque, NM
Jeffrey D Lewine, PhD , Mind Research Network, Albuquerque, NM
Corey C Ford, MD, PhD , Department of Neurology, UNM Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, NM

Evaluating Cerebellar Contributions to Physical Performance and Cognition in Multiple Sclerosis


Nora E Fritz, PhD, PT, DPT, NCS, Kennedy Krieger Institute; Chuyang Ye, BS, Johns Hopkins University; Jerry Prince, PhD, Johns Hopkins University; Zhen Yang, BS, Johns Hopkins University; Jennifer Keller, PT, Kennedy Krieger Institute; Allen Jiang, BS, Kennedy Krieger Institute; Chen Chun Chiang, B.S., Kennedy Krieger Institute; Rhul Marasigan, B.A., Kennedy Krieger Institute; Peter A Calabresi, MD, FAAN, Johns Hopkins University; Kathleen M Zackowski, PhD, OT, Johns Hopkins University

Right Under Our Noses: Olfactory Pathology in Central Nervous System Demyelinating Diseases


Albert Joseph, MRes, University of Oxford; Jithin George, MRCP, University of Oxford; Richard Yates, BSc, University of Oxford; Marie Hamard, MSc, University of Oxford; Margaret Esiri, FRCPath, University of Oxford; Gabriele C DeLuca, MD, DPhil, University of Oxford

Best Poster by a Young Investigator
Interhemispheric Relationships In Multiple Sclerosis: Evaluation By MEG, EEG, and MRI
Ioan Belovarski, BS, UNM Health Sciences Center


Other Authors: Erik V Burton, MD, UNM Health Sciences Center; Jeffrey D Lewine, PhD, UNM Health Sciences Center; Corey C Ford, MD, PhD, UNM Health Sciences Center


Best Platform Presentation by a Young Investigator
Fingolimod inhibits cytotoxic T cells: A novel immunomodulatory effect of the unphosphorylated compound
Achilles Ntranos, MD, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine


Other Authors: Inna V Grishkan, BS, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine; Dionne P Robinson, BS, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Olivia J Hall, MSc, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Sabra L Klein, PhD, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Peter A Calabresi, MD, FAAN, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine; Anne R Gocke, PhD, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine


Best Overall Research by a Young Investigator
Stat1 Regulates Neural Stem-Cell Function By Transcriptional Regulation of Sox9
Jaime Imitola, MD, Harvard Medical School

Haiyan Peng, PhD, The Ohio State UniversityHaiyan Peng, PhD, The Ohio State University,  Best Overall Work

Dimethyl Fumarate Protects the Central Nervous System Against Excitotoxicity

In the past twenty years, significant progress has been made in both understanding the pathogenesis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and treatment of patients with MS.  MS seems to be more complicated than just inflammation: in fact, accumulating evidence demonstrates that neurodegeneration is also a large component of MS pathogenesis and contributes to disease progression. This is evidenced by the failure of current therapies to slow down continuous brain atrophy in secondary or primary progressive MS patients (SPMS or PPMS). Therefore, a new challenge for MS research is to develop effective neuroprotective interventions for progressive forms of MS.

One project of my graduate work is to determine the potential neuroprotective effects of dimethyl fumarate (DMF, BG-12 as the brand name), a novel oral medication under the evaluation of Federal Drug Administration. To exclude the strong immunological component (for example in Experimental Autoimmune Encephalitomyelitis), an excitotoxic model of neuro-injury was utilized in our study. Our preliminary data demonstrated that pre-treatment of DMF successfully reduced acute neuronal damage. Moreover, these treated mice had better motor activity compared to untreated mice, suggesting the possible protective effects of DMF.  Currently, we are in the process of evaluating the effects of DMF in mice with chronic excitotoxic injury and exploring the molecular mechanisms through which DMF exerts its protective effects in the CNS.  We believe that this work will not only help enhance our understanding of MS, but it will also provide a mechanistic foundation for DMF treatment of progressive MS.


Gloria von Geldern, MD, Johns Hopkins UniversityGloria von Geldern, MD, Johns Hopkins University, Best Poster Presentation

Hand Function in Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a demyelinating disease that can affect several areas of the central nervous system and may lead to problems with vision, bladder control, sensation, coordination, or strength.  Rating scales can help measure these symptoms and the resulting disability.  Most rating scales strongly emphasize impairments in walking when measuring disability in MS. Hand dysfunction is not frequently assessed in MS patients and therefore little is know about the frequency and severity of hand problems.  There is also very limited data on how to best measure hand function in MS patients.  However, the ability to use your hands impacts quality of life and is critical for maintaining independence in many life tasks. To better evaluate this issue, Drs. von Geldern and Zackowsky at the Johns Hopkins MS Center and Kennedy Krieger Institute are studying hand function in more than a hundred patients with MS, evaluating grip and pinch strength measured with a dynamometer as well as nine-hole-peg test and finger tapping test.  The study found that hand dysfunction is a common problem in MS, in particular in individuals with the progressive disease form.  More than a third of patients with progressive MS have grip strength less than 50% of healthy controls.  The study also shows that grip strength and the nine-hole-peg test measure different aspects of hand dysfunction, suggesting that both tests should be included when evaluating upper extremity disability in MS.  The next step is to study hand function longitudinally.  This will help determine how well these tests are able to detect changes in hand function and to quantify the extent that hand function changes in individuals with MS.  This information will be important when designing trials that study the effect of rehabilitation interventions for individuals with MS.  It may also be a helpful tool when developing medications aimed to help individuals with MS regain function by promoting remyelination.


Rachel Tripoli, 3rd year Medical Student, Florida State University CollegeRachel Tripoli, 3rd year Medical Student, Florida State University College, Best Platform Presentation

Deficient Contrast Visual Acuity In Patients With Multiple Sclerosis Degrades Gait Performance Under Conditions Of Low Illumination

This study was a pilot study of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) who have reduced visual acuity and it demonstrated a correlation between a low functional ambulation profile (FAP) score and increased fall risk.  This risk shown to be minimized by the wearing of contrast enhancing lenses.

The 2011 Whitaker awardee is Mireia Guerau-de-Arellano, PharmD, PhD, a Postdoctoral Researcher affiliated with the Neurology Department of The Ohio State University. Her presentation is titled, “miRNA Biomarkers Modulate T-cell differentiation in Multiple Sclerosis.” Dr. Guerau-de-Arellano states: “My ultimate goal is to further our understanding of the basis of susceptibility to MS, while developing novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for this disease. I am very grateful for the financial aid and the prestige associated with this award, which are already helping me accomplish these goals.”

Robert Axtell, PhD, Stanford University, received the 2010 Whitaker Award for MS Research.  Simarian with Whitaker This annual prize, funded by the FCMSC through a three-year grant from EMD Serono, Inc, recognizes excellence among emerging clinician-scientists participating in the CMSC’s Whitaker Track scientific sessions focusing on the pathophysiology and immunology of MS.

Th1 And Th17 Pathways Determine Opposite Results Of Interferon Beta Treatment Of Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis And Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis

The 2009 Whitaker Prize was awarded to Allison Drake, MSc, Jacobs Neurological Institute, State University of New York at Allison Drake, MScBuffalo. Her work on “Changes in Self-Reported MSPhysical Measures Reflect Clinically Meaningful Changes in Ambulation ” was judged to have a substantial promise to increase the understanding of the pathophysiology of multiple sclerosis. The other members of the team are Paulette Niewczyk, Barbara Teter, Bianca Weinstock-Guttman, Cornelia Mihai, Carl Granger, and Frederick Munschauer


CMSC Pilot Research Awards funded by the Foundation of the CMSC

Francois Bethoux, MD, Mellen Center for MS/ Cleveland Clinic
A pilot single-blind randomized controlled trial to evaluate the safety and feasibility of rhythmic auditory stimulation for gait traning in persons with Multiple Sclerosis


Frederick Foley, Ph.D.,  Holy Name Medical Center, NJ
FCMSC Steven R. Schwid Memorial Pilot Grant Award
Pilot Randomized Control Trial of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for the Treatment of Pain Perception in Multiple Sclerosis


Francois Bethoux, MD, Mellen Center for MS/ Cleveland Clinic
John F. Kurtzke, MD Pilot Grant Award
Monitoring exertion-induced changes in gait parameters in patients with relapsing-remitting MS


Joshua Sandry Ph.D., Kessler Foundation Research Center
FCMSC Kenneth P. Johnson Pilot Grant Award
Hippocampal involvement in working and long-term memory to understand memory impairment in multiple sclerosis


Helen Genova, Ph.D., Kessler Foundation Research Center
Hillel S. Panitch Pilot Grant Award
Investigation of Social Cognition in Progressive MS

Pamela Newland, RN, PhD, CMSRN,  Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis, MO
FCMSC Steven R. Schwid Memorial Pilot Grant Award
Passive Continuous, In-Home Symptom and Gait Measure for Patients with Multiple Sclerosis- A feasibility study


John R Rinker, II, MD, VA Medical Center, Birmingham
John F. Kurtzke, MD Pilot Grant Award
The spectrum of psychiatric disease among veterans with multiple sclerosis: Prevalence and utilization of mental health services


Tanuja Chitnis, MD, Partners MS Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
FCMSC Kenneth P. Johnson Pilot Grant Award
Piloting a handheld platform to investigate changes in quality of life (QOL), treatment satisfaction and adherence associated with initiation of oral DMTs


Sonya Kim, PhD, CRC,  NYU School of Medicine – Department of Rehabilitation Medicine
Hillel S. Panitch Pilot Grant Award
A Qualitative Study of Posttraumatic Growth in Partners of Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis

Francois Bethoux, MD,  Mellen Center for MS/ Cleveland Clinic
FCMSC Steven R. Schwid Memorial Pilot Grant Award
The Effects of Yoga Practice on Walking and Balance in Ambulatory Multiple Sclerosis Patients


Eric Chamot, MD, MS, PhD, University of Alabama at Birmingham
John F. Kurtzke, MD Pilot Grant Award
Interpretation of Changes in IRT scored version of NARCOMS performance scales


Miho Asano, PhD, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen’s University
FCMSC Kenneth P. Johnson Pilot Grant Award
The use of rehabilitation services in post-relapse management in Multiple Sclerosis


Tanuja Chitnis, MD,  Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School
Hillel S. Panitch Pilot Grant Award
Long term patient reported outcomes in pediatric onset Multiple Sclerosis

Helen Genova, PhD,  Kessler Foundation Research Center
FCMSC Steven R. Schwid Memorial Pilot Grant Award
Remediation of Emotional Processing Deficits in MS: A Pilot Study


Terry Lee-Wilk, PhD, VA Maryland Health Care System
John F. Kurtzke, MD Pilot Grant Award
A Cognitive Telerehabilitation Initiative for Veterans with MS


Jonathan Cook, MD, Columbia University
FCMSC Kenneth P. Johnson Pilot Grant Award
A Cognitive Telerehabilitation Initiative for Veterans with MS


Dagmar Amtmann, PhD,  University of Washington
Hillel S. Panitch Pilot Grant Award
New Ways to Measure Sleep of Individuals Living with MS

Marcia Finlayson, University of Illinois at Chicago
FCMSC Steven R. Schwid Memorial Pilot Grant Award
Developing a Clinical Reasoning Algorithm to Guide MS Fatigue Rehabilitation Interventions


James Mariott, University of Manitoba Health Sciences Centre
John F. Kurtzke, MD Pilot Grant Award
Project FARMS: Fall Risk Reduction in MS

Ruth Anne Marrie, PhD,  Health Sciences Centre, Manitoba University
Hillel S. Panitch Pilot Grant Award
MS and Neuromyelitis Optica in Special Populations in Manitoba

Erin Snook, PhD, University of Massachusetts Amherst
FCMSC Steven R. Schwid Memorial Pilot Grant Award
Development of a Comprehensive Global MS Symptom Assessment Using Modern Measurement Theory.
This annual study grant award, honoring the late Steven R. Schwid, MD is funded by Teva Neuroscience.


Anne H. Cross, MD, Washington University, St. Louis
John F. Kurtzke, MD Pilot Grant Award
Role of Adiponectin in MS and its Animal Model
Pilot research study funded through FCMSC by Questcor Pharmaceuticals


The CMSC Research program continues to sustain the mission of the CMSC which is to promote the best and latest in care for Multiple Sclerosis.

The Foundation of the CMSC salutes the supporters of Research Programs:

  • Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, Inc
  • EMD Serono, Inc.
  • Neurologic Disease Foundation
  • Questcor Pharmaceuticals
  • Teva Neuroscience

With your help and support of the Foundation of the CMSC, we can ensure that future generations of people with MS will receive the quality healthcare they need and deserve.

Consensus Conferences

Since 2008, the Foundation of the CMSC has raised funds to support CMSC professional Consensus Conferences examining current and best practice management issues, advances in research, and potential educational needs for MS research and clinical care.

FCMSC gratefully acknowledges grants in partial support of these conferences and the dissemination of results through publications or educational programs from the following supporters:

  • Acorda Therapeutics
  • Allergan
  • Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, Inc
  • Biogen Idec
  • Genzyme
  • Questcor Pharmaceuticals, Inc
  • Teva Neuroscience
  • XenoPort

Fellowship Projects


AANF-CMSC Kurtzke MS Clinician-Scientist Fellowship: A CMSC and American Academy of Neurology Foundation Collaborative Award.

In a letter to the Foundation, Dr. De Luca commented “…Funding support through the FCMSC has been crucial to the pursuit of my dream to be a clinician-scientist.  The John F. Kurtzke Clinician-Scientist Development Award has enabled me to undertake research focused on the relationship between genetics and pathology in MS.”  He added, “Through developing a better understanding of the pathogenesis of MS, this research work has the potential to influence MS care by guiding the development of therapies aimed at halting the devastating consequences of the disease.” — Gabriele C. DeLuca, MD, PhD.

Jennifer Graves, MD, PhDJennifer Graves, MD, PhD, University of California at San Francisco, has been selected as the recipient of a newly funded FCMSC/CMSC MS Clinician-Scientist Development Fellowship.  Supported by the Foundation through a grant from Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, Dr. Graves will begin her 2012-2014 Fellowship to investigate genetic susceptibility factors in pediatric MS and the role that genetic burden may play in early onset of symptoms.  Dr. Graves remarks, “I am very excited and highly motivated to be embarking on a career in MS research during this pivotal  time of advances in bioscience technology, and hope to bring to the bedside diagnostic and prognostic tools to help my patients receive the best treatments possible.”


Gabriele De Luca, MD, PhDThe Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) and the American Academy of Neurology Foundation (AANF) have awarded the first John F. Kurtzke, MD, FAAN, Clinician-Scientist Development Three-Year Award in MS to Gabriele De Luca, MD, PhD. This prestigious Fellowship award is supported by funding from the AANF as well as funding through the Foundation of the CMSC to honor the life-long contributions of Dr. Kurtzke, and to inspire new MS healthcare professionals to follow a career path in MS research and clinical care.

Dr. De Luca began work on his research project, “Genetic-Pathologic Correlations in Multiple Sclerosis,” under the mentorship of Dr. George Ebers at the University of Oxford, in July, 2010. Dr. De Luca, formerly Chief Neurology Resident at the Mayo Clinic, recently was awarded the Waldman Prize for excellence in clinical neurology by the Mayo Clinic.

This three-year Fellowship Award is supported in part by grants from Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, Inc., EMD Serono, Inc., Neurologic Disease Foundation, Questcor Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Teva Neuroscience. The Foundation of the CMSC continues to seek additional funding, and hopes to continue long-term support of this special award.

John F. Kurtzke, MD, FAANJohn F. Kurtzke, MD, FAAN, has had a long and distinguished career in the field of neurology and neuroepidemiology, as Chief of the Neurology Service at the Veterans’ Affairs (VA) Medical Centers in Coatesville, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. A Navy veteran of World War II, he attained the rank of Rear Admiral in the Medical Corps of the U.S. Naval Reserve. Dr. Kurtzke served as Professor of Neurology at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., where he has been a faculty member since 1963 and is currently Professor Emeritus. Since 1992, he has also served as Distinguished Professor of Neurology at the F. Edward Herbert School of Medicine of the Uniformed Services University of Healthcare in Bethesda, MD. Among his many personal contributions to MS and epidemiological research, one very notable tool with which all MS researcher are familiar is the Kurtzke Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS), one of the most commonly used clinical measures of MS progression.

June Halper, Executive Director of the CMSC commented, “We are so proud to encourage the next generation to continue the important work Dr. Kurtzke has established.”