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About us

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Our strategy

The Multiple Sclerosis Research Flagship is a Flagship program of the University of Tasmania, College of Health and Medicine and was established from a long history of multiple sclerosis (MS) research at Menzies Institute for Medical Research.

Our vision is to reduce the impact of MS on individuals and the community.

Our mission is to perform high-quality, interdisciplinary, and consumer driven research on the causes, treatment and prevention of MS though an integrated pipeline of research. Conducting high impact, translational research to improve health and benefit to society.

Our focus

  • Understanding the biology of MS and related disorders.
  • Preventing MS in people at high-risk.
  • Identifying and modifying factors associated with genetic risk.
  • Educating and raising awareness of MS and it's impacts.
  • Decreasing the societal impact of MS.

Our program is strongly connected with national and international MS research priorities, collaborators, health professionals, MS support services (MS Plus) and advocates (MS Australia), and most importantly, people living with MS and their communities.

Our team has proudly been at the forefront of research advancements in MS for more than thirty years, utilising the unique concentration of people living with MS and MS research in Tasmania.

Learn more about Our impact.

Read our MS Research Flagship Strategic Plan 2021-2026

Our leaders

Among the breadth of work undertaken by the MS Research Flagship, there are five main research areas.
Professor Bruce Taylor (1)

Clinical Research

We aim to further advance MS research by taking new discoveries and potential therapies out of the laboratory and into the lives of people with MS. Clinical trials help to determine if new therapies are safe, effective, and/or cost-effective. This is sometimes referred to as ‘bench to bedside’ or ‘translational research’.

Academic Lead
Professor Bruce Taylor

Professor Bruce Taylor is the academic lead for the Flagship and a clinical neurologist concerned with how to slow the progression of the disease. But his ultimate goal is to prevent the onset of MS.

Learn more about Bruce

Professor Kaylene Young

Brain Health

We are working with the MS community to establish MS Stem, a biobank containing stem cell lines that are generated from individuals with MS or their unaffected family members. Each stem cell line is studied in the laboratory so that we can learn what causes MS. We use these stem cells and other preclinical models of myelin loss to understand how MS affects brain cells and to develop potential myelin repair treatments for people with MS.

Team Leader
Professor Kaylene Young

Current MS treatments target the immune system, but a treatment that promotes nervous system repair is also needed. Professor Kaylene Young's team is working to develop and test new myelin repair treatments that we hope will protect nerve cells and overcome MS-related disability.

Learn more about Kaylene

Professor Ingrid van der Mei

Epidemiology and Digital Health

We are developing educational tools and online resources specifically for people with MS. For example, My SymptoMS a MS symptom tracking App, and MS WorkSmart, an online course designed to help people with MS remain in the workforce.

Team Leader
Professor Ingrid van der Mei

Professor Ingrid van der Mei is an epidemiologist focusing on why people get MS and what influences MS progression. She also examines whether digital technology solutions can improve the lives of people with MS.

Learn more about Ingrid

Professor Andrew Palmer

Health Economics

We are continuously working to understand the true cost of multiple sclerosis in Australia, for individuals and society. We work closely with MS Australia advocating for improved health policies and better access to care for people with MS.

Team Leader
Professor Andrew Palmer

Health economist Professor Andrew Palmer is developing a "Gold Standard" health economics simulation model to assess new interventions or medications in the treatment of MS.

Learn more about Andrew

Dr Yuan Zhou

Genomics

Genetics plays an important role in MS risk but there is a lot that is still unknown. We are exploring multiple new avenues which may lead to better diagnosis, treatment and prevention of MS. For example, we aim to understand the role Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) plays in the development of MS.

Team Leader
Dr Yuan Zhou

Dr Yuan Zhou is a geneticist and his research focuses on dissecting the genetic architecture of MS using large biological and clinical datasets that could lead to better treatment and prevention of disease progression.

Learn more about Yuan

Tash

Operations

We are working together across the multidisciplinary teams, with our MS community and partner organisations to ensure our research is easily accessible and achieves the greatest impact. We ensure independent evaluation and accountability of our research strategy and operations through appropriate governance.

Team Leader
Natasha Stevens

Natasha Stevens is the program manager, leading the strategic operations, business management and research governance of the Flagship. Natasha is a research management, clinical trials and translational research expert whose focus is on making the best use of valuable public resources to ensure we achieve our strategic goals and vision.

Learn more about Natasha

CCI_Headshots_Viv

Consumer and Community Involvement (CCI)

We are committed to actively involving our MS consumers and community in all aspects of the Flagship, ensuring the lived experience of people affected by MS is considered throughout the lifecycle of our research.

Team Leader
Viv Jones

Viv Jones manages the activity of the consumer and community reference committee (C&CRC). Consumer involvement is at the heart of everything we do and is the critical element for improving our research outcomes and impact.

Scientific Advisory Committee

Governance

The MS Research Flagship is supported by a robust governance structure consisting of a:

  • Steering Committee
  • Consumer & Community Reference Committee
  • Scientific Advisory Committee

Our funders

The MS Research Flagship is funded by the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), MS Australia (MSA), MS Plus, Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation (RHHRF), the Irene Phelps Charitable Trust, the University of Tasmania, the Menzies Institute for Medical Research and philanthropic donations and bequests.

Donate

Donate today to help us continue undertaking life-changing, world-class MS research.