One way the National MS Society propels MS research forward is by funding high-risk, high-potential pilot projects to investigate new, untested ideas and attract new researchers to the field. These unique one-year grants allow researchers to quickly gather data needed to determine if their novel ideas are worth pursuing. A researcher who submits a pilot research proposal will receive fast-track reviews and approvals to speed the testing of new ideas. Some quick facts about our pilot projects:
- One-year grants
- Any topic or technique relevant to MS research
- Quick turnaround: applications are reviewed quarterly
- Pilots attract new talent: About half of pilot grant recipients are new to National MS Society funding
- Over 70 funded each year
Here is a sampling of recent pilot research projects:
- Stephen Rao, PhD (The Cleveland Clinic Foundation) is testing the effectiveness of a test for detecting cognitive dysfunction in MS, which can be quickly and easily administered using an iPad, in 60 people with MS and 60 healthy controls.
- MichelleCameron, MD (Veterans Administration Medical Center Portland, OR) is examining the effects of methylphenidate (an inexpensive stimulant medication) on balance and walking in 24 people with MS, to lay the ground work for a full scale trial.
- Bryan Cullen, PhD (Duke University Durham, NC) is examining every possible gene in the spinal fluid of people who have MS, a so-called “metagenomic” view that may reveal a virus that has not yet been discovered, and which is possibly connected to the onset of MS.
- Angeliki Nikolakopoulou, PhD (University of California, Riverside) is exploring a molecule that may enhance the regeneration of damaged nerve cells, by studying this molecule in tissue samples from people with MS and a model of MS-like disease.