Merck awards €1-M grant for multiple scoliosis

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The recipients of the €1-M fifth annual grant for multiple sclerosis innovations have been chosen by Merck during the 7th Joint ECTRIMS-ACTRIMS Meeting in Paris, France.

This year Merck received 77 innovative research proposals from 25 countries around the globe. There were three teams however, that stood out and were selected to share the €1 million grant to further their research. Among those awarded was a Canadian research team from Quebec. The teams are as follows:

  • Immunosenescence as a predictor of MS progression: Professor Catherine Larochelle and Professor Nathalie Arbour, Department of Neurosciences, Université de Montréal, Canada;
  • Targeting multiple sclerosis immune- and psycho-pathophysiology by modulation of neuroinflammation; development of the S100B knockout model studies: Professor Adelaide Fernandes, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Lisbon, Portugal;
  • Defining Spatial Pattern and Surface Characteristics of Multiple Sclerosis and Non-Specific White Matter Lesions via 3-Dimensional Analysis and Machine Learning: Professor Darin Okuda, Department of Neurology & Neurotherapeutics, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Texas, United States.

“Merck is deeply committed to innovative science that improves the lives of patients living with severe diseases. Since its initiation, the funding of early stage research projects such as the Grant for Multiple Sclerosis Innovation, has enabled talented and inspiring researchers to advance our understanding of how we predict, diagnose, treat and monitor progression of this disabling disease,” said Steven Hildemann, global chief medical officer and head of global patient safety, at Merck. “This year’s Grant for Multiple Sclerosis Innovation winners exemplify recent innovation with promising concepts in artificial intelligence, augmented diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, as well as sophisticated monitoring of disease progression, supporting caregivers and patients with multiple sclerosis in their hopes to continue to lead a normal life.”

The grant for multiple scoliosis innovation was established in October 2012 with the aim of improving the understanding of multiple sclerosis (MS) for the ultimate benefit of those living with the disease. Previous recipients have studied molecular markers of MS, novel magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) imaging and analysis techniques to detect and monitor the disease, and methods to reduce and repair nerve damage caused by inflammation in patients with MS.

The awards symposium was chaired by professor David Bates, emeritus professor of clinical neurology, Royal Victoria Infirmary, UK, and a member of the GMSI Scientific Committee. During the symposium, Merck also announced the call for proposals for the 2018 GMSI. Up to €1 million will be awarded to fund innovative research in MS, in topics that could involve any of the following: MS pathogenesis; prediction of MS subtypes; predictive markers of treatment response; potential new treatments for MS; and, innovative patient support programs, mobile health devices or patient-reported outcomes.

More information about the GMSI can be found online at

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