The John Dystel Prize for Multiple Sclerosis Research is awarded jointly by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the American Academy of Neurology. The Prize, currently in the amount of $15,000, recognizes outstanding contributions to research in the understanding, treatment or prevention of multiple sclerosis.
The award is made possible through a special contribution from the John Dystel Multiple Sclerosis Research Fund at the National MS Society. Society National Board member Oscar Dystel and his late wife Marion established this fund in 1994 in honor of their son John Jay, an attorney whose promising career was cut short by progressive disability from MS. John died of complications of the disease in June 2003.
Richard M. Ransohoff, MD (Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute and Mellen Center for MS Treatment and Research) was honored for pioneering work in MS that led to new insights on immune activity in the brain and spinal cord (neuroimmunology).
Brian Weinshenker, MD (Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN) was honored for groundbreaking findings relating to the diagnosis and treatment of MS.
David A. Hafler, MD (Yale University, New Haven, CT) was honored for fundamental discoveries related to MS in fields such as immunology and genetics, and for bringing clinical importance to basic science findings.
David H. Miller, MD, FRCP (Institute of Neurology, University College London) was honored for revolutionizing what we know about MS and its treatment through his pioneering research using imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging.
Stephen L. Hauser, MD (University of California, San Francisco) was honored for his pioneering studies on genetic susceptibility to MS, and for his role in translating findings on the role of immune B cells in MS into clinical trials.
Howard L. Weiner, MD (Harvard Medical School) was honored for his contributions toward understanding the development of the immune attack in MS, translating these findings into MS treatments, and for advancing clinical care of people with this disease.
William A. Sibley, MD (University of Arizona, Tucson) was recognized for clarifying the influence of infections in the occurrence of MS relapses, and for the ramifications of these pivotal findings on MS treatment.
Neuroimmunologist Jack Antel, MD (McGill University) was honored for his major contributions in establishing the study of interactions between the immune system and the brain and its application to multiple sclerosis, and for his role as a leading MS clinician and investigator.
Lawrence Steinman, MD (Stanford Medical Center) was recognized for his major contributions to our understanding of animal models of MS, and for translating these findings to the clinical development of novel therapeutic strategies for MS.
Bruce D. Trapp, PhD (Lerner Research Institute at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation) was chosen for his major contributions to our understanding of brain tissue destruction and repair in MS. These findings changed the face of MS research and have had significant implications for the development of new therapies.
Stephen G. Waxman, MD, PhD, (Yale University) was chosen for his fundamental contributions to our understanding of the pathophysiology of MS, that is, how damage to the brain and spinal cord in MS produces the characteristic symptoms of multiple sclerosis. His work on sodium channels (tiny pores along the axon that are essential for nerve conduction) has helped us understand the origin of neurological problems in MS, and also helped to focus attention on treatments aimed at improving nerve function.
John W. Prineas, MB, BS, FRCP, (University of Sydney, Australia) was recognized for being the investigator who first described how myelin, the substance that insulates nerve fibers, is broken down in MS, and he was the first to demonstrate that myelin repair occurs during the course of MS. Dr. Prineas also provided pivotal descriptions of the diversity among lesions and nerve damage in people with MS — now a pivotal and increasingly exciting area of MS research.
Neurologist Kenneth P. Johnson, MD (University of Maryland) was recognized for his international leadership in designing and conducting controlled, multi-center clinical trials to test treatments for MS, and for his pioneering laboratory efforts to identify an infectious trigger of the disease. He was also cited for his dedication to aggressive symptom management and rehabilitation to improve the quality of life of those living with MS.
Neurologist W. Ian McDonald, MB, ChB, PhD (Emeritus Professor of Clinical Neurology at the Institute of Neurology at University College in London ) was the first person to show that loss of myelin results in the inability of the nerve impulse to continue across a demyelinated portion of a nerve fiber. His work raised significant new questions in distinguishing primary and secondary progressive MS, and he has provided worldwide leadership in the role of magnetic resonance imaging in MS.
A leader in MS research, Henry F. McFarland, MD (Neuroimmunology Branch, National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke) was cited for his groundbreaking research into immune and genetic factors that underlie susceptibility to MS. His work in MRI showed that disease activity occurs even in the absence of clinical changes, and helped establish MRI as a vital tool in clinical trials of potential treatments.
Top neuroepidemiologist John F. Kurtzke, MD (Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Washington, DC) was recognized for his development of the disability status scale that bears his name and his pivotal epidemiological and demographic studies of MS.
A leading neuroimmunologist and neuropathologist, Cedric S. Raine, PhD, DSc, (Albert Einstein College of Medicine), was chosen in recognition of his numerous studies that have significantly advanced our understanding of the mechanisms of myelin loss (demyelination), myelin regeneration (remyelination), and the fate of the myelin-making cells, called oligodendrocytes, in MS lesions.
The late Donald W. Paty, MD, FRCP(C) (University of British Columbia) was the first recipient of the John Jay Dystel Prize for MS Research, in recognition of his pioneering work in evaluating the course and progression of multiple sclerosis by repeated MRI scans. Dr. Paty was at the forefront using this tool to further our understanding of the nervous system and how it is affected by MS. Dr. Paty was also a leader in developing methods for collecting clinical information on patients to document the "natural history," or natural course, of MS. In collaboration with MS research colleagues and the MS Society of Canada, he started the MS clinic system in Canada which has resulted in many collaborative nationwide studies.