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Penn Medicine Neurologist Wins Barancik Prize for Innovation in MS Research

February 15, 2022

Dr. Amit Bar-Or set to be honored for work toward custom-tailoring treatmentsto stop Multiple Sclerosis
 
Amit Bar-Or, MD, the Melissa and Paul Anderson President’s Distinguished Professor of Neurology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, is this year’s recipient of the Barancik Prize for Innovation in MS Research. He is being honored for work uncovering how the immune system drives MS and for cutting-edge research focusing on precision medicine to achieve long-term remission and ultimately preventing progression of the disease. He will deliver the Prize lecture at the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) Forum on February 25, 2022.
 
“Dr. Bar-Or is a true thought leader who is applying very sophisticated approaches to translate complex findings and changing the way we think of MS and how wBar-Or-A,-formal-pic-headshot-jpg-(1).jpege will more precisely treat it in the not-too-distant future,” said Bruce Bebo, Ph.D., Executive Vice President of Research Programs at the National MS Society, which administers the award. “Like few others, his work is driving toward achieving permanent remission of MS, stopping its progression, and preventing its onset, which is truly visionary.”
 
Among his many activities and achievements:
  • Dr. Bar-Or is providing exciting insights into how immune cells interact with and influence one another to drive or calm immune attacks, and how these cells interact with brain cells to mediate destructive inflammation in MS.
  • He has continued to increase understanding of pediatric MS, which provides a unique window into early disease biology.
  • His team’s approach includes the development of a novel Precision Neuroimmunology Platform, aimed at capturing the range of immune-response states that can be seen across individuals, while continuing to uncover new insights into immune activation profiles in health and disease.
  • In addition to developing tools for better measuring a person’s immune response to immune challenges (such as with different immune therapies or vaccination), the overall approach, and particularly the incorporation of cutting edge biological-response measures in clinical trials, is contributing to understanding the therapeutic mode-of-action of emerging therapies, to improving the design and implementation of clinical trials and to the development of meaningful biomarkers that will eventually enable more tailored approaches to treating MS.
  • The goal is to go from today’s one-size-fits-all approach to clinical trials and treatment, to developing more personalized treatment plans that work best for each person with MS, and ultimately achieve a durable “non-disease” remission and full stop to disease activity and progression.
  • Dr. Bar-Or also studies the basics of immune regulation and immune-neural interaction in the context of inflammation, injury, and repair of the central nervous system. He is working to develop tools that identify and monitor MS from its earliest stages with enough confidence to select and initiate interventions as well as switch and potentially stop interventions, while providing further insights into the biological processes driving MS from its early through its later stages.

“It’s incredibly gratifying that our team’s work has been recognized for novel approaches that we believe should improve prospects for people living with MS now and in the future,” said Dr. Bar-Or.
 
“Dr. Bar-Or is an outstanding clinician-scientist in the MS field, and his scientific, clinical, translational neuroimmunology and leadership contributions place him as one of the most impactful researchers on MS currently and for the foreseeable future,” said V. Wee Yong, PhD, University of Calgary, Canada Research Chair in Neuroimmunology, and Director, Alberta MS Network, who nominated Bar-Or for the Barancik Prize.
 
Biosketch: Amit Bar-Or, MD, FRCP, is the Melissa and Paul Anderson President’s Distinguished Professor of Neurology and Chief of the Division of MS and related disorders. He is the founding Director of the Center for Neuroinflammation and Neurotherapeutics, Perelman School of Medicine, at the University of Pennsylvania, and a researcher and Clinical collaborator at Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania. Bar-Or earned a medical degree from McGill University, and completed additional training at Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT and Harvard’s Center for Neurologic Disease. He has served as President of the Canadian Network of MS Clinics and President of the International Society of Neuroimmunology (ISNI), serves on the Board of Directors of the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) and on the Steering Committee of the Immune Tolerance Network (ITN). He has authored over 280 peer-reviewed papers, led multiple national and international collaborative research initiatives, and has mentored more than 80 clinician-scientists at both pre- and post-doctoral levels.
 
About the Barancik Prize for Innovation in MS Research: The Barancik Prize seeks to recognize and encourage exceptional innovation and originality in scientific research relevant to multiple sclerosis, with emphasis on impact and potential of the research to lead to pathways for the treatment and cure for MS, and scientific accomplishments that merit recognition as a future leader in MS research. The international prize is administered through the National MS Society and made possible by the generosity of the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation. Read more about previous award winners

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.

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