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Boston Doctor Wins Prestigious Barancik Prize for MS Research

October 24, 2014

Dr. Timothy Coetzee, National MS Society, Dr. Philip DeJager, Barancik Prize winner, Charles and Margery Barancik, Cyndi Zagieboylo, CEO, National MS Society (Andrew Child photo)

Philip DeJager, MD, PhD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital described his reaction to learning he was the recipient of the 2014 Barancik Prize for Innovation in MS Research.

“I think it validates the approaches we’ve been developing the past few years,” said DeJager.

The Prize seeks to recognize and encourage exceptional innovation and originality in scientific research relevant to multiple sclerosis, with an emphasis on impact and potential of the research to lead to pathways for the treatment and cure for MS. The international prize is made possible by the generosity of the Charles and Margery Barancik SO Foundation, and is administered through the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. 

Charles and Margie Barancik of Chicago initiated the prize because a family member is living with MS, and they wanted to motivate research into the disease.

The Baranciks were in Boston on October 23, 2014 for the award ceremony and to meet Dr. DeJager. They said they appreciated the fact DeJager is a clinician as well as a researcher.

“I think [he} has done an incredible job even before the benefit of this award,” said Mr. Barancik. “We are just thrilled with his work.”

Dr DeJager was selected for his work in applying powerful analytic approaches to better understand how genes and the environment interact with the goal of developing personalized treatments for MS and, ultimately, disease prevention. 

For more information, see a video about Dr. DeJager’s work.

DeJager is a founding member of the International MS Genetics Consortium (IMSGC) and has played a key role in nearly every major gene discovery and advancement over the past decade.

“He has really modeled what we look for in a leader of MS research,” said Dr. Timothy Coetzee, Chief Advocacy, Services and Research Officer at the National MS Society.

During a question and answer session at the award ceremony, Dr. DeJager talked about the importance of the collaboration among members of the consortium. “One of the pleasures of being in field of MS is all the collaborators,” he said.  “The reason why we came together at end of the day...we want to solve this problem. Our success has been a testament to that approach.”

DeJager now returns to his Boston lab to continue his latest work, a 20-year study of 5,000 subjects, including people with MS and family members. It is a massive undertaking, but he said the Barancik Prize gives him renewed excitement and motivation for the work.

“It’s a real energizer for me and our team to know we are on the right path.” Then he added, “We just have to work harder.”

The Barancik Prize sculpture was created by Brian Grossman, an artist living with multiple sclerosis. 
 

About the Greater New England Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society

The National MS Society mobilizes people and resources to drive research for a cure and to address the challenges of everyone affected by MS. The Society’s Greater New England Chapter serves 21,000 individuals and families affected by MS in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Early and ongoing treatment with an FDA-approved therapy can make a difference for people with multiple sclerosis. Learn about your options by talking to your health care professional and by contacting the National MS Society at www.MSnewengland.org, or 1 800 FIGHT MS (344 4867).

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. 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. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

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