MSWA to invest a record $2.2m into research

19 October 2016

MSWA has cemented its place as Australia’s largest investor into finding the cause and cure for multiple sclerosis. This year the organisation has committed a record $2.2 million to fund local and international research.

“When it comes to multiple sclerosis we know that there is no silver bullet. That’s why we’re funding a number of different research projects, both locally and overseas. The trials are examining everything from the progression of MS to cognitive retraining programs and the use of non-invasive brain stimulus to improve the independence of people with MS,” said MSWA CEO, Marcus Stafford.

“As an organisation, we’re really proud to be able to financially support local researchers. Our long-term aim is to become the leaders in MS research in Australia, which is why year-on-year we’ve increased our funding and we’re really pleased to have been able to set a new benchmark this year.

“The breakdown of the $2.2 million dollars that MSWA has committed to research includes $1.5 million to MS Research Australia with $500,000 to be directed to the International Progressive MS Alliance in the United States for their work in research into progressive MS. The other $1 million will be spent at MSRA’s discretion. Almost $459,000 will be allocated to fund the second year of five WA based MS research projects, including Dr Anderson Jones’ fellowship which is investigating how UV therapy affects the immune system and the progression of MS.”

“This trial is examining UV therapy as an intervention in clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), with half of the participants receiving UV therapy while the other half don’t. I’m examining blood samples for differences in the immune system between participants with CIS and healthy controls, and whether UV therapy alters immune function,” said Dr Jones.

“The study collects samples from participants with CIS, which might be considered a ‘pre-MS’ condition, as well as people with active and acute MS or optic neuritis, and control samples from people without a neuroinflammatory condition.

“Next year, I hope to move on to examining not just the types of immune cells, but why they may be functioning differently. Work done in our group using mice reveals that UV can change immune cell metabolism, making them less inflammatory,” Dr Jones added.

Another MSWA funded research project, being carried out by Clinical Professor Soumya Ghosh from the Western Australian Neurological Research Institute and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, is focusing on new treatment in the rehabilitation of MS patients. In particular, whether non-invasive brain stimulation and a structured balance treatment program improves gait and balance of people with MS.

Marcus Stafford said MSWA wouldn’t be able to fund all of this important research without the generosity of the people of Western Australia.

“At MSWA, more than 60% of our funding comes from our fundraising efforts throughout the year, like our MSWA Ocean Ride which is coming up on December 4. We’re hoping this year’s ride will raise $300,000. It’s a great family friendly event that will allow us to continue funding ground-breaking research into the cause and cure for MS and provide the support and services to people with MS and other neurological diseases and their families,” added Mr Stafford.

You can register to take part or sponsor a rider in this year’s MSWA Ocean Ride for MS at

Media contact: Tony Monaghan, The Brand Agency 0428 280 593

Successful WA-based MSWA research funding applicants

Post Doctorate Research Fellowship Applications

  • Dr Marzena Pedrini, Senior Research Officer at WANRI

Dr Pedrini supports several current and proposed projects “exploring the mechanisms of MS pathogenesis”; HSCT (stem cell) register, UVB therapy in MS and EBV research. Funded 2016: $128,138. Funded 2017: $133,263.

  • Dr Anderson Jones, Telethon Kids Institute, Research Officer and Clinical Trial Coordinator

Interested in immunology, allergy and nutrition, Worked on vitamin D and UVB phototherapy MS research. Extending the PhoCIS project looking at the mechanisms by which UV affects the immune system and contributes towards finding a way to stop the progression of MS. Funded 2016: $97,771. Funded 2017: $98,658.

  • Dr Lucinda Black, Senior Research Officer, Dept. of Nutrition and Dietetics, Curtin University

Research will explore dietary factors and the risk of MS. Exploring the patterns of food intake, intake of specific foods and nutrients and whether they contribute to the risk of MS. Funded 2016: $150,000. Funded 2017: $150,000

Social and Applied Research Applications

  • Prof. Soumya Ghosh, Neurologist AT WANRI and SCGH

Existing project funded through MSRA; this study expands the concept and the eligibility criteria to include progressive MS. Investigating whether the use of non-invasive brain stimulation enhances neuroplasticity thus increasing the effect. Funded 2015/16: $13,014. Funded 2016/17: $26,028

  • Dr Michelle Byrnes, Head of Clinical Psychology Unit, Centre for Neuromuscular and Neurological Disorders, UWA

Project evaluates the effectiveness of an integrated cognitive and psychosocial rehabilitation programs to facilitate improvements in cognitive and psychosocial development. Funded 2015/16: $49,641. Funded 2016/17: $50,596