EMD Serono Makes First Awards as Part of the Company's 1 Million Euro Grant for Multiple Sclerosis Innovation

- Research grants reflect company's continuing commitment to multiple sclerosis (MS) community

- Four grants awarded out of more than 100 proposals from around the world

Oct 05, 2013, 08:00 ET from EMD Serono, Inc.

ROCKLAND, Mass. and COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Oct. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- EMD Serono, Inc., a subsidiary of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, announced today on the occasion of the 29th European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS), the recipients of the company's inaugural Grant for Multiple Sclerosis Innovation (GMSI).

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Four recipients, three from the United States and one from Germany, will share the overall €1 million grant to support their research:

  • Dr Daniel Harrison, Assistant Professor of Neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, received a grant for research seeking to translate novel magnetic resonance imaging and analysis techniques into tools that have clinical applications in MS. He is focused on the validation of tools that will provide more pathologically specific assessments in future clinical trials.
  • Dr Thomas Thum, Professor and Director of the Institute of Molecular and Translational Therapeutic Strategies at Hannover Medical School (Germany), previously evaluated whether microRNAs are differentially regulated in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of patients with MS. The awarded grant will allow him and a network of German centers to validate their initial findings of altered microRNA patterns in the CSF of up to 1000 patients with MS.
  • Dr Kevin O'Connor, Assistant Professor of Neurology at Yale School of Medicine, studies immunology and neurology. His laboratory is specifically interested in defining the mechanisms by which immune cells called B cells, and the antibodies they produce, influence tissue damage in autoimmunity. The grant will be used to support work in determining the specificity of autoantibodies and understanding how particular types of B cells initiate and sustain autoimmunity.
    • Dr Joshua Bacon, Chair of the Department of Psychology at Stern College for Women at Yeshiva University in New York City, research scientist in the Department of Neurology at NYU School of Medicine, and member of the clinical and research team at NYU Langone's Multiple Sclerosis Comprehensive Care Center, will use the grant to support his research developing tests to detect speed-of-processing impairments in sub-clinical and early MS and developing a comprehensive cognitive rehabilitation program for patients with MS who also have cognitive impairments.

    The GMSI was launched in October 2012 at the 28th ECTRIMS Congress with the aim of improving the understanding of MS for the ultimate benefit of those living with the disease. Researchers from across the globe were invited to submit proposals describing promising translational research projects. More than 100 proposals were received.

    "At EMD Serono, we recognize the value of a broad R&D ecosystem, and seek to lever insights and expertise from across the continuum of the healthcare landscape," says Dr. Annalisa Jenkins, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Research and Development at Merck Serono, the biopharmaceutical division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. "The Grant for MS Innovation is a unique platform which will help us to accelerate exceptional science that exhibits the potential to become an innovative medicine or a high-value solution for patients. By investing in these research opportunities, we are building a bridge to a future in which more therapeutic options will improve the quality of life for those living with multiple sclerosis."

    Grants will be awarded annually beginning this year. The second call for proposals, for the 2014 GMSI was made by EMD Serono at today's Satellite Symposium. The awards symposium was co-chaired by David Bates and Maria Trojano. Dr Bates is Emeritus Professor of Clinical Neurology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and a member of the GMSI Scientific Committee. Professor Trojano is Professor of Neurology and Chief of the Neurophysiopathology Unit at the University of Bari, Italy. She is Vice President of the ECTRIMS Executive Committee and a scientific committee member of many MS organizations, including the Italian National MS Society. More information about the GMSI can be found at the following website:

    About EMD Serono, Inc.
    EMD Serono, Inc., a subsidiary of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is a leader in the US biopharmaceutical arena, integrating cutting-edge science with unparalleled patient support systems to improve people's lives. The company has strong market positions in neurodegenerative diseases, endocrinology and in reproductive health. In addition, EMD Serono is growing its expertise and presence in the area of oncology, with more than 15 projects currently in development. With a clear focus on the patient and a leadership presence in the biopharmaceutical industry, EMD Serono's US footprint continues to grow, with approximately 1,000 employees around the country and fully integrated commercial, clinical and research operations in the company's home state of Massachusetts.

    For more information, please visit www.emdserono.com  

    About Merck KGaA
    Merck is a leading pharmaceutical, chemical and life science company with total revenues of € 11.2 billion in 2012, a history that began in 1668, and a future shaped by approx. 38,000 employees in 66 countries. Its success is characterized by innovations from entrepreneurial employees. Merck's operating activities come under the umbrella of Merck KGaA, in which the Merck family holds an approximately 70% interest and free shareholders own the remaining approximately 30%. In 1917 the U.S. subsidiary Merck & Co. was expropriated and has been an independent company ever since.

    For more information, please visit www.merckserono.com or www.merckgroup.com

    SOURCE EMD Serono, Inc.