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Research Funding Principles

The complexity of MS requires a comprehensive research strategy that fuels knowledge and speeds better treatments, health care policies, and new disease and symptom management therapies so that there are treatments for everyone and so that people with MS can live their very best lives.
The Society provides grant funding, research training, and shared resources, to support the brightest scientists exploring questions underlying MS. We manage a diverse portfolio of academic and commercial research projects, provide training fellowships, foster global collaboration, and convene experts to identify strategic research priorities. Our objectives are achieved by ensuring funding of the best science regardless of geography.
Consistent application of the following principles will help accelerate progress toward a world free of MS.
  1. We prioritize research that advances the Society’s strategic plan, with a focus on stopping the disease in its tracks, restoring what has been lost, and ending MS forever through a cure for all forms of MS.
  2. We maintain a diverse research portfolio that includes short- and long-term investments, balances risks and rewards, and funds research globally.
  3. We balance investments in research initiated by individual investigators with investments in Society-directed research, all focused on bridging knowledge gaps, seizing opportunities and addressing research priorities.
  4. We promote synergies between researchers in diverse disciplines, and develop strategic partnerships to accelerate progress.
  5. We invest in all types of research including: laboratory models, human studies, population-based approaches, and data-intensive investigations that leverage both researcher and patient reported outcomes.
  6. We support the full spectrum of basic, translational, and clinical research. We also strive to break down barriers to commercial development to ensure that new treatments and wellness approaches are available as quickly as possible.
  7. We use independent experts to ensure that each research proposal receives a fair, competent and objective assessment of its scientific merit, relevance to MS, relevance to the MS community,  and alignment with the Society’s research priorities.
  8. We attract and support new investigators to foster a robust future workforce focused on finding solutions for MS.
  9. We expect Society-funded researchers to adhere to rigorous experimental methods and reporting practices.
  10. We believe that sharing data and resources enhances research and speeds scientific discovery. Data and resources developed through Society-sponsored research will be made available to other researchers after publication in an expeditious manner.

Research Priorities: Pathways to Multiple Sclerosis Cures

The National MS Society is focused on achieving breakthroughs to cures for multiple sclerosis. Our progress will be hastened with a roadmap that describes the knowledge gaps, milestones and research priorities that will lead to cures for everyone living with MS. The roadmap was developed in consultation with scientific experts, health care providers and people affected by MS. We believe the Pathways to Cures Roadmap will inspire the alignment of global resources on the most pressing questions in MS research and accelerate scientific breakthroughs that lead to cures for everyone living with MS. 

The Roadmap includes three Pathways: STOPPING MS disease activity, RESTORING function by reversing damage and symptoms, and ENDING MS by preventing new cases.

Follow this link for executive summaries outlining key aspects of research needed to drive the Stop, Restore and End pathways. If you would like advice about whether and how your research may fit with these priorities, please reach out to a Society research staff person.

Goal 1: STOP pathway -- No more disease activity

Stopping MS is defined as achieving a state of no new disease activity, no worsening of daily living or quality of life, and no change in disease manifestations or clinical activity in people living with either relapsing or progressive forms of MS. Understanding disease heterogeneity across diverse populations of people with all forms of MS over time is important to stopping disease activity and protecting the central nervous system from further assault, and to create a permissive environment for myelin repair and other restoration efforts. Achieving a better understanding of the mechanism of progression as MS evolves over time will inform future therapeutic strategies. People with MS will play an active role in the pathway. As digital tools and technologies advance, data may be used to improve detection of changes in disease course, to monitor and measure neuroprotective processes, and to advance toward precision medicine tailored to individuals. Similarly, these tools might aid in supporting lifestyle modifications to benefit wellness. 

Goal 2: RESTORE Pathway -- reverse symptoms, and recover function to enable full participation in society

MS can result in many different symptoms, including vision loss, pain, fatigue, sensory loss, impaired coordination, mobility, and cognitive and mood changes. Symptom severity and duration varies from person to person. Historically, rehabilitation aims to improve symptoms, with medical management of the disease kept separate. There is data supporting the idea that restoration of function, not only symptom management, is possible in MS.
Preserving and repairing myelin is likely to be one of the best ways we can prevent neurodegeneration. Exploring additional ways to slow down or stop neurodegeneration should reveal strategies that mitigate progressive forms of MS. In addition, the integration of repair and maintenance of repaired tissue with rehabilitation efforts is critical.
Translation of knowledge from basic mechanisms to functional impact is needed to optimize treatment, manage symptoms, and ultimately restore function for people living with both relapsing and progressive forms of MS. For this to occur, translational research using animal models of MS focused on understanding pathophysiological mechanisms as well as the study of human behavior and symptomatic therapies will be needed. 

Goal 3: END Pathway -- No new cases of MS (prevention)

Ending MS is defined as no new cases of MS. Preventing new cases of MS will require population-based public health initiatives and individual-based interventions. Primary prevention involves identifying causal risk factors and limiting exposures to those MS risk factors in the general population. Secondary prevention focuses on individuals at high risk for MS and developing and deploying interventions in the period prior to clinical stages of disease to reduce or eliminate the risk for developing MS. While efforts will be made to advance both objectives, a focus on Secondary Prevention could potentially lead to the development of approaches with benefits for people living with MS in the near term.

Follow this link for additional details. 


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© 2021 The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is a tax exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Its Identification Number (EIN) is 13-5661935.