In 1946 the National Multiple Sclerosis Society was born, and in 1947 the Society sponsored its first three research projects. Today, the National MS Society is a driving force of MS research, and global research efforts are underway. Research sponsored by the Society and its many partners in government, other MS societies, and the private sector has led to major advances in our understanding and treatment of this complex disease.
The complexity of MS necessitates a holistic approach when it comes to research – a comprehensive strategy that can propel knowledge, better treatments, health care policies, and new disease management therapies forward, faster. A great deal of progress has been made. Although the cause of MS is still unknown, thanks to global research efforts, clear clues are emerging on factors that influence the risk of developing MS. We have better and faster ways of diagnosing MS, and there are therapies that can reduce MS attacks and delay progression for many, with more potential therapies in the pipeline than at any other time in history.
To move toward a world free of MS, the National MS Society provides grant funding, tools and information resources to support the brightest scientists and physicians exploring questions underlying MS, and to attract and train promising young investigators to carry on this vital work. We offer a spectrum of funding opportunities and other resources to support MS investigators at virtually every stage of their careers.
We are finding expeditious ways to conduct research, forge relationships, bridge barriers and garner resources to propel research forward:
• Fast-tracking high-risk pilot grants to quickly test novel ideas.
• Evaluating urgent research opportunities with special peer review panels.
• Sharing resources to enhance discovery, including MS tissue banks and DNA banks.
We foster coalitions worldwide with experts in other fields and diseases to make rapid and meaningful progress:
• Offering special funding for collaborative teams.
• Engaging thought leaders to identify new opportunities and help set priorities and to serve as peer reviewers and advisors. Our centralized peer review and funding process helps us avoid geographic and political biases, and identify the best research projects in which to strategically invest our resources.
• Leveraging support from other organizations, agencies and industry to propel MS research.
We fuel novel ideas, potential therapies, projects and technologies to discover and pursue every avenue that holds promise:
• Offering special funding to test innovative ideas.
• Funding university-based research and clinical trials to feed the drug pipeline, and pursuing industry partnerships for drug development.
• Exploring non-traditional research avenues, including: health care policy/delivery; quality of life; complementary/alternative therapies; and concepts initiated within the pharma/biotech industries.
• Funding investigator-initiated and Society-targeted research. We invite scientists to come to us with their new ideas to be tested, and we also proactively target promising areas that are ripe for exploration.
• We have convened over 50 international workshops and meetings over the past 40 years, playing a pivotal role in fostering collaborations and moving knowledge forward in critical areas. Many of these workshops have been springboards for crucial leaps forward in research approaches to MS.
After an exhaustive audit of our research programs, in 2010 Faster Cures, an independent nonprofit focused on speeding medical research, lauded the Society’s efforts, identifying us as the “single organization serving as a catalyst for new research in MS.”
Fast Forward, founded by the National MS Society, focuses on expediting the drug development process, bridging the gap between promising discoveries and the commercial expertise and funding to move them forward. Fast Forward provides critical funds to academic groups and emerging biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies involved in drug research and development. By connecting people, ideas, and resources, promising drug treatments can now break through barriers, move through the pipeline, and enter clinical trials - faster.