National MS Society Co-Sponsors Rally For Medical Research

Apr 05, 2013, 07:46 ET from National Multiple Sclerosis Society

People living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and MS experts available to speak about the importance of NIH funding for life-changing MS research

WASHINGTON, April 5, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On April 8 at 11 a.m., thousands of people will gather on the Carnegie Library grounds to participate in the Rally for Medical Research to raise awareness of the critical need to make funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) a priority. The National MS Society and nearly 200 other health and science organizations have united for this first-of-its-kind event, founded and organized by the American Association for Cancer Research.

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The National Institutes of Health is the largest source of funding for medical research in the world and has been a driving force behind many decades of advances that have improved the health of people in every corner of America. The Rally for Medical Research will unite Americans across the country to call on our nation's policymakers to make life-changing medical research funding a national priority. This unified call to action will raise awareness about the critical need for a sustained investment in the NIH to improve health, spur more progress, inspire more hope and improve more lives.

Federal funding for medical research at the NIH has continued to decline since 2003, putting the public's future health at risk. On April 2, Dr. Timothy Coetzee, the Society's Chief Research Officer was among a distinguished array of leaders from research and patient advocacy organizations invited to the White House as part of President Obama's unveiling of the historic research initiative Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, or "BRAIN" for short. The initiative has been established to map the human brain in order to understand for the first time how millions of brain cells interact. The project will engage both government and private institutions and will include the National Institutes of Health. "The Rally for Medical Research will raise awareness among members of Congress and the general public about the critical need for a sustained investment in the NIH so that we can advance research to find the best treatments to restore lost connections in MS and other life altering diseases," observes Dr. Coetzee.

The Rally for Medical Research, to be streamed live on YouTube, will welcome many speakers, including:

  • Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the NIH;
  • Congressman Christopher Van Hollen (D-Md.), the Society's MS Caucus Co-Chair and 2009 Representative of the Year who recently circulated a Dear Colleague letter to support $10 million for MS research though the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP); and
  • Many individuals from all walks of life who can share firsthand experiences about a wide range of diseases where research breakthrough have changed their lives and their futures.

MS Experts Available for Interview

In 2012 alone, the National MS Society invested $43 million to support 350 MS research projects. MS Society staff and volunteer experts are highly educated and trained professionals that discuss the unique challenges and opportunities that MS presents to medical researchers; experts, patient spokespeople (listed below) and others are available for interview at any time:

  • A Professor of Neurology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Dr. Peter Calabresi serves as the Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center, focusing on the diagnosis and management of MS. He is the principal investigator on several clinical trials and oversees research projects seeking to create new anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective therapies for MS through funding from the NIH and the National MS Society and others.
  • Program Director at UCLA Department of Neurology, Dr. Rhonda Voskuhl, is a widely recognized expert in the study of the immunology of MS, working both with MS patients' blood immune cells as well as with the mouse model of MS, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). She currently has two novel agents in treatment trials for MS based on the basic lab results from her laboratory, primarily through funding from the NIH.
  • The Society's Chief Research Officer, Dr. Timothy Coetzee, received his PhD in microbiology and immunology in 1993 and the National MS Society's Advanced Postdoctoral Fellowship for research on the structure and function of myelin, and then joined the Society's Research Department in 2000. Dr. Coetzee is responsible for the Society's research program, which funds more than 350 projects around the world.
  • Sarah Keitt was diagnosed with MS in 2000. "My MRI results led to my diagnosis – technology resulting from NIH research," Keitt says. Now taking her third new treatment to delay the progress of her MS, Sarah continues, "NIH research laid the groundwork for all the MS treatments available today – treatments that have kept me and many others with MS walking and functioning as productive adults."

For more information or to contact potential interviewees, please e-mail

To urge your members of Congress to support MS research and the NIH, visit

For more information on the Society and MS issues, visit

About Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system, interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.1 million people worldwide.

About the National MS Society
The National MS Society addresses the challenges of each person affected by MS. To fulfill this mission, the Society funds cutting-edge research, drives change through advocacy, facilitates professional education, collaborates with MS organizations around the world, and provides programs and services designed to help people with MS and their families move forward with their lives.  In 2012 alone, the Society invested $43 million to support 350 research projects around the world while providing programs and services that assisted more than one million people.  The Society is dedicated to achieving a world free of MS. Join the movement at

SOURCE National Multiple Sclerosis Society