For more than a century people around world have been celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8th. The theme for this year’s IWD is #PressforProgress based on a need for gender parity. In addition to this year’s goal to #PressforProgres, IWD celebrates the achievements of women all around the world. When speaking of the achievements of women and bringing it locally, Dr. Pamela Valentine was appointed President and CEO of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada this year. In Multiple Sclerosis (MS), more women than men are diagnosed with the disease that means more women are managing a disease while also juggling the everyday hurdles of life. So, in today’s post I wanted to highlight the research projects conducted by a couple of the female researchers we support that are working tirelessly to find ways to improve the quality of life of all people living with MS.
Dr. Dalia Rotstein: #PressforProgress on risk factors and MS
Dr. Dalia Rotstein is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Neurology at the University of Toronto and a neurologist at St. Michael’s Hospital. Dr. Rotstein obtained her MD degree at McGill University and then pursued a post-doctoral fellowship in the areas of clinical epidemiology and MS. She received a post-doctoral fellowship from the Society from 2012-2014 after which she established her independent research lab in 2014. Her research focuses on areas of epidemiology, disease-modifying therapies, and diet’s influences on MS.
Dr. Rotstein was awarded over $150,000 in 2017 for her project studying immigration rates and risk of developing MS. Immigrants are thought to be at lower risk for developing MS than people born in Canada, but their risk is still believed to be higher than that in their native countries. Dr. Rotstein’s work, which will study the risk of developing MS amongst immigrants in Ontario, may lead to the creation of the largest and most diverse cohort of immigrants with MS. These findings will allow health professionals to tailor their care to the unique needs of the immigrant population with MS, while also providing important insights into risk factors for MS in general.
Dr. Shannon Kolind: #PressforProgress on novel biomarkers in MS
Dr. Shannon Kolind is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine (Division of Neurology), University of British Columbia (UBC). Dr. Kolind has been supported by the MS Society throughout her research career as she was awarded a research studentship in 2007 and postdoctoral fellowship in 2009. Dr. Kolind obtained her doctoral degree in Physics and is taking that knowledge and applying it to her independent research lab which was established in 2015. Her research interests lie in magnetic resonance imaging and MS.
Dr. Kolind was awarded nearly $300,000 in 2017 for her research project which aims to establish an imaging biomarker for disease progression in multiple sclerosis. The most promising brain imaging biomarker in MS is change in brain volume, however this can take over a year to confirm and is only partially linked to progression. As a potential alternative, Dr. Kolind’s research team wants to explore the loss of myelin as a potential biomarker. The integrity of myelin determines the health of neurons, and myelin loss can reflect the severity of MS disease. Dr. Kolind hopes that her findings will help to: (1) establish an approach that monitors myelin changes; (2) identify individuals at risk for severe progression; and (3) reduce the cost and time required for progressive MS clinical trials.
These are two of the many female scientists that the MS Society supports which are working hard to advance research in MS with the ultimate goal of contributing to the end of MS. To learn about more researchers that the MS Society is supporting, check out our research summaries.