Karen Lee is the current Vice-President of Research at the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, where she oversees day-to-day research operations and provides leadership to a broad range of initiatives set in motion to find the cure for MS and improve the quality of life for people who are affected by MS. Through this effort, Karen works closely with and provides support to an exceptional community of clinicians, scientists, health charities and private industry stakeholders both in Canada and internationally. In addition to this role, Karen serves as the Managing Director for the endMS Research and Training Network, where she provides leadership to regional training centres across the country and ensures effective implementation of programs to attract and retain MS researchers.

Karen completed an Honours B.Sc. at the University of Western Ontario, followed by a Ph.D. in Cellular Molecular Medicine from the University of Ottawa. Karen possessed a strong interest in understanding the cellular mechanisms in multiple sclerosis and devoted much of her research to understanding repair mechanisms in MS. During graduate school, Karen served on the MS Society Board of Directors for the Ottawa Chapter. Today, Karen is still an active volunteer in her community and enjoys golfing and running during her free time.

18 thoughts on “About

  1. El-mostafa ETTAKI

    I am a 54 years old Canadian citizen with progressive MS left without any kind of medication or rehab , I was told to stop my daily Copaxone shots by my neurologist (I saw him during 5 minutes once and he said nothing would help you).
    My chart can be found at the MS clinic at St Michael hospital,
    Would you please help me.
    Thank you

    1. drkarenlee


      Thank you for your comments. Unfortunately I cannot provide medical advice, but I will suggest that you continue maintaining ongoing conversations with your health care team to determine the best course of medical care. Our website has helpful information regarding treatments, progressive MS, symptoms, supportive services and the latest in MS research. Check it out at http://www.mssociety.ca, and do not hesitate to submit any further questions to info@mssociety.ca.

      Dr. K

  2. Allan Miller

    Positive vibes re the MS Walk in Victoria on May 3rd.

    From my wife’s cousin in Oklahoma regarding the MS Walk.

    “This is a wonderful thing you’re doing, Allan! I’ll be with you in spirit on May 2nd, and will hike a block or two with my walker down here in Oklahoma.”

    Allan Miller


  3. Heinz J. Mensing

    I just posted this on another page of Dr. Lee about the role of mitochondria in progressive MS:

    “I searched your article for IRON: You obviously do not even mention it.
    Free iron is known to stimulate ROS and neurodegeneration (Fenton reaction…), not only in MS but in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, dementia in general…
    People should keep their serum ferritin value and tranferrin saturation low (do not eat red meat, abstain from iron containing food additives and supplements, become a blood donor…) to prevent neurodegeneration. (Iron is TOXIC unless you have a documented deficiency, i.e. iron deficiency anemia, ferritin below ca. 10 ng/ml.)

    That was obvious to former Harvard medical chemistry professor Randall B. Lauffer more than 2 decades ago, see his 3 books 1991…93. ”

    Ask yourself why men “lead” in progression, in PP-MS: it’s their high(er) storage of “surplus” iron, which is toxic.
    Just search for some papers by prof. Rohit Baksh and collegues, for example, I think there are YouTube videos of some of his lectures… The deficit in the work of all these folks: They can show the iron with their high-tech (3 and 7 Telsa) machines in the brain / MS lesions, but they do not offer suggestions, advice, how to get rid of surplus iron (better: to prevent it in the first place)!
    That was known millenia ago: phlebotomies, blood-letting (= blood donations today).

    I started to get rid of my stored iron (some 2,5 – 3 g) at the end of 1993 by a series of phlebotomies (which is the standard textbook therapy for the most prevalent genetic disease, hemochromatosis), then continued with 75 blood donations over some 15 years, and once more changed to phlebotomies when I was no longer allowed to donate.
    I am better off nowadays than 2 decades ago and expect to live to 100 in good (at least acceptable) health. (I also started on doxycycline early in 1996 and kept this with a “pulse protocol”, 2 days on doxy per month, since then. See the work of Prof. Luanne Metz and co-workerst in Calgary on the very similar minocycline during the last 12..15 years.)

    Heinz J. Mensing, MD (pharmacology research for some four decades at a university in Germany)

    1. drkarenlee

      Hi Heinz,

      Thank you very much for your fascinating insights. The MS Society of Canada is in fact funding research exploring the role of iron accumulation in influencing the disease process in animal models of MS. Dr. Samuel David at McGill University is examining the “double-edged sword” aspects of iron; namely, how imbalances in iron regulation are related to the MS disease process, and also how iron contributes to repair by stimulating remyelination. We are continuing to watch this avenue of research with great interest and will report here on any progress that’s made.

      Dr. K

      1. Kim

        Hello Dr. Karen Lee,

        I’ve just discovered your wonderful blog. I was diagnosed with RRMS in 1992. Presently I’m using Copaxone daily injections (started 2009). Overall I don’t experience a lot of disability except that I walk with cane. I am considering purchasing a walker to help save precious energy.

        I was diagnosed with neuropathic pain in Calgary, Alberta – 2005-6. My Neurologist prescribed Amitriptyline 40mg/night. It’s helped eliminate the sharp pain but now new pain is snaking up the back of my right side of head. Ouch! What is this?!

        Last year, I developed iron deficiency & was taking iron supplements as prescribed by my GP. After several month, the supplements were not increasing the iron levels, so I was prescribed iron infusions at the local hospital. It was a week of IV therapy. My iron levels jumped very high. My doctor monitors my blood once a month. So far, it’s back to normal.

        After this long-winded story, I became concerned after reading one of the letters in your blog, written by a man with MS, who had too much iron! He talked about blood-letting, donating blood, etc. He said the extra iron was causing him disability!

        Now I’m wondering if I did the right treatment for my iron deficiency. I’m hoping that you could help me understand what to do. I’m a 56 yr. old woman, living in British Columbia. I put all my trust in my excellent doctors & Neurologist. Perhaps you can help me figure all this out.

        Thank you for listening,

        Sincerely, Kim M.

  4. Era Hancock

    I am writing to you regarding Adamas Pharmaceutical Co. regarding symptom management.
    Currently, as you are aware, a Phase 2 multi-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, 2-arm, parallel group study evaluating the safety and efficacy of ADS-5102 in patients with multiple sclerosis and walking impairment.

    Do you have any information regarding this medication? Study completion is scheduled for May 2016.
    Thank you,

    1. drkarenlee

      Hi Era,

      Thank you for your question. According to the clinical trial information at clinicaltrials.gov, as of this month the trial is still in the recruitment phase. Participants receiving the medication will be followed for measurement of adverse events and walking impairment evaluations for up to 4 weeks, with final data collection date estimated to be complete in May 2016. For more information on the trial, such as specific outcome measures and eligibility criteria, please refer to the clinicaltrials.gov site.

      Dr. K

  5. Lilian

    HI I am interested in knowing if there is any nanotechnology treament for MS that is being trialed on humans? If so could you send me some contact information or links to publications.
    Thank you so much.

    1. drkarenlee

      Hi Lilian,

      Nanoparticle treatments, such as the one explored in this MS Society-funded study, are still in the experimental, pre-clinical phase of testing. So far, these technologies have shown some promising results in MS and other diseases using animal models of disease and in human cells and tissues cultured outside of the body, but there is still some work to be done to adapt these techniques to be used safely in living human participants.

      Dr. K

  6. toni hoffman

    Hi Dr. Lee, my name is Toni Hoffman, im 33 yrs old, unfortunately I was diagnosed with m.s when I was 15, but had the symptoms at the age of 12. Dr. Lee, I have so many medical issues that I don’t know how I succeed in beating and fighting everything that is breaking me down, but it is not going to stop until I do something about it or let someone who knows what there doing help save a woman’s life and make all hee dreams come true, I can still walk, and they don’t know how, I went numb from the neck down, I have had a stoke induced into a coma so I would come out of it, they expected me to be brain damaged, but I have fought for over 20 years and maybe you will find it in your heart and soul to help someone as sick as me…

  7. Linda Houle-Robert

    I just wanted to share with you my excitement of the new wave of research that the MS Society is funding. I am particularly interested in the study investigating the micro biome and the link to MS, as well as the impact of physical activity on MS. I was training for my first marathon when i was first diagnosed 16 years ago and i have now just completed my 17th marathon. Exercise, daily meditation and changing my eating habits have really helped me better manage my MS.

  8. Corrie Shaw

    Hi Karen, it looks like you are presenting at the MS Conference I am attending in Halifax, NS in November so I look forward to seeing you again. One of the coordinators for my conference has asked me to speak a bit about my participation in the Community Representative Program and research in general to my fellow Chapter Chairs and Self-Help Group Facilitators so it will be a nice tie in with your presentation.

    I am not sure yet if my talk is before we go to your presentation or if it is the day after but I am very much looking forward to your presentation.

    Corrie Shaw

  9. Modi

    Hi Dr. Karen
    I’m 54 years old SPMS patient and I can’t walk since January 2008 and I use wheelchair since then.
    I’m wondering if there’s any drug that could help me walking very soon?
    I’m using Tysabri right now which is very good, and all what I need is walking.
    Thank you so much

    1. drkarenlee

      Hi Modi,
      Thanks for your question. There is a list of treatments listed on our website that help manage symptoms associated with MS. One of them is called Fampyra, which is indicated for symptomatic improvement of walking in MS patients with an EDSS score of 3.5-7. I would encourage you to discuss these options with your health-care team. Currently, there are no disease-modifying treatments approved for the treatment of SPMS, however an application to Health Canada has been submitted for ocrelizumab for primary progressive MS, for which we hope to hear a decision soon. Additionally, a drug called siponimod has shown benefits in people with secondary progression MS, which is currently in a phase III clinical trial. We hope this helps to answer your questions.
      Dr. K

  10. Sandra Sellick

    Dear Dr. Lee
    I was surprised to receive an email from you today regarding the MS walk. In it you expressed regret that I would not be joining the walk this year and asked me to make a donation. I made a donation to the Hewitt’s Harriers team many weeks ago and both my husband and I plan to be in the park on Sunday, Apr. 28 to support our friend Michelle Hewitt, who is a wonderful advocate for MS awareness and services in Kelowna, BC.
    Dr. Sandra Sellick

    1. drkarenlee

      Hi Sandra,

      Thank you for your comment and your donation to the MS Society. With you support, we continue to advance research to improve the lives of Canadian living with MS.

      -Dr. K


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