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MS Connect - Vancouver

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MS Connect - Ottawa


BCY MS Connect Mark FreedmanDr Mark Freedman
Stem Cell Treatments for MS: Hype vs Hope

Dr. Mark Freedman will present the Canadian Bone Marrow Transplantation Trial and subsequent experience, as well as talk about the MEsenchymal Stem cell therapy for CAnadian MS Patients (MESCAMS) project and its future. Dr. Freedman will also touch on what "others" are doing that may be very misleading in the realm of Stem Cell research.

Dr Freedman is currently professor of medicine in the field of neurology at the University of Ottawa, as well as director of the Multiple Sclerosis Research Unit at the Ottawa Hospital, General Campus and a Senior Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

He has published over 250 pieces, including articles, books, book chapters and abstracts and has been invited to give hundreds of lectures and presentations nationally and internationally. His extensive research includes the area of molecular neurochemistry, cellular immunology, neuroimmunology and clinical studies in MS. He is currently holding peer reviewed and industry related funding for translational research investigating immune mechanisms of damage in multiple sclerosis, with particular interest in the role of gamma-delta T-cells. He is also the lead investigator in the Canadian Bone Marrow Transplant Study in MS and co-chair of the International Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation Study Group.

Dr Freedman has over 25 years of experience in the management of patients with multiple sclerosis and has been the principal investigator on numerous clinical trials with new therapeutic agents for MS.

BCY MS Connect Shannon KolindDr Shannon Kolind
Myelin-specific MRI for Multiple Sclerosis

Over the past three decades, clinical trials of promising therapies for progressive MS have relied on clinical measures of disease progression to test whether they are effective. Unfortunately, because these clinical measures change slowly and are difficult to measure objectively, clinical trials for progression require a very large number of people and long period of time. Biomarkers are biological clues from the body that can tell us about the state of a disease or the effect of a treatment. 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 Shannon Kolind’s and her research team are exploring 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’s research team is using imaging tools that can detect and measure structural changes in myelin, which in turn can provide information about disease progression. The hope their 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.

Dr Kolind earned her PhD in Physics at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada, developing ways to measure myelin, the insulating layer that surrounds nerves in the brain and spinal cord, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Oxford Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain (FMRIB) at the University of Oxford as well as the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. While in the UK, she specialized in developing new methods to image myelin in the brain and spinal cord and making these techniques more practical for use in research. She then returned to UBC, this time in the Division of Neurology, to become an Assistant Professor. Dr Kolind’s lab is focused on developing a toolbox of tissue-specific imaging techniques. Her multi-disciplinary team employs these multi-modal tools to achieving greater sensitivity and specificity in clinical research; particularly for clinical trials of new therapies. This work is largely focused on multiple sclerosis (MS) and neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD).

BCY MS Connect Craig MooreDr Craig Moore
Searching for the ultimate drug to "endMS"

In MS, there are multiple cell types in the central nervous system that contribute to both injury and repair. One such type includes specialized immune cells (called microglia) that have immense plasticity and are abundant in MS brain lesions. We have previously demonstrated that these cells can adopt either a pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory phenotype depending on the factors present within their local microenvironment. In this MS Society of Canada funded research, we have demonstrated that a specialized molecule (called microRNA-223) is increased in the blood of MS patients and promotes the ability of brain cells to undergo a process called phagocytosis. Phagocytosis is a natural phenomenon that involves the clearing of myelin debris and promotes a favourable environment whereby cells can remyelinate and facilitate brain repair. Not only have we noted this ability of mir-223 to increase repair mechanisms, but it can also decrease inflammation. The ability of this single endogenous molecule to both decrease inflammation while also directly stimulating repair makes it an attractive biomarker and potential target of therapy in both relapse-remitting and progressive forms of MS.

Dr Craig Moore is an assistant professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Neuroscience and Brain Repair within the Division of BioMedical Sciences and cross-appointed in the Discipline of Medicine (Neurology) in the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN). His primary research interests include basic and clinical neuroimmunology, glial cell biology, elucidating pathogenic mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases, and novel drug and biomarker discovery. Dr Moore’s research has significantly contributed to our understanding of the interactions between cells of the immune and central nervous system (CNS). In recent years, it has been widely recognized that the immune system plays a critical role in mediating neurogenesis and brain repair. Dr Moore was the first to demonstrate how novel markers of inflammatory injury (e.g. microRNAs), which can be routinely measured in the blood, are also clinically and pathologically relevant in the brain. Several microRNAs that Dr Moore has identified are helping to further elucidate how the brain responds to specific types of inflammation, and then subsequently initiates repair mechanisms.

Dr Moore collaborates with several world experts in the fields of neuroimmunology and neuroscience research. At Memorial University, Dr Moore has been the driving force in launching the Health Research Innovation Team in MS (HITMS), a multi-disciplinary team of dedicated MS researchers and clinicians. By establishing a province-wide MS patient clinical database and sample repository, he is providing both his lab and collaborators with access to clinical samples and detailed patient data. Together, this initiative is the first of its kind in Atlantic Canada and creates a comprehensive “footprint” of a patient’s experience after and while being diagnosed with MS.

caprariello_a.jpgDr Andrew Caprariello
Inflammation From the Inside-Out: Does Subtle Myelin Damage Cause MS?
(Abstract available soon.)

Andrew Caprariello, Ph.D. is a MS Research Fellow in the laboratory of Peter Stys, M.D. at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) at the University of Calgary. Longstanding interest in the biological basis of MS lesions dates back to his Ph.D. studies at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Over the past 12 years, Dr. Caprariello’s ongoing contribution to the MS research field includes 3 original models of MS, which provide important clues regarding the origins of MS but also new preclinical models in which to test future MS medicines. Increasingly sensitive techniques to detect even subtle pathologies both in MS tissues and his original MS models comprise an additional focus of his research. Outside of the lab, Andrew enjoys all manner of outdoor activities with his toddler Emma and wife Jamie. He is also a classically-trained pianist and a long-distance triathlete.

BCY MS Connect Jacqueline QuandtDr Jacqueline Quandt
Radical Approaches to Prevent Disability: Less Strain on the Brain
(Abstract available soon.)

Dr. Jacqueline Quandt is the Associate Director of the UBC MS Research Group at UBC and leads the Neuroinflammation Lab at the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health and the Department of Pathology in the Faculty of Medicine. Her research is focused on understanding the role of the immune system in both damage and repair of the brain and spinal cord as a result of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis. Using cell-based and more complex disease models, researchers in the Quandt Lab study the relationships between inflammation and neuronal death.

BCY MS Connect Sarah DonkersSarah Donkers
Novel Approaches to Physical Activity in the Management of Multiple Sclerosis

This talk will briefly summarize what we know, and are yet to know, about physical activity in the management of MS. It will introduce some of our research projects including a web-based physiotherapist-guided home exercise program, and will end with some recommendations based on clinical experience and the current literature.

Sarah Donkers is a Physiotherapist and an Assistant Professor of neurology at the University of Saskatchewan. Her research focuses on optimizing function for persons living with neurodegenerative conditions and includes investigating the role of physical activity in symptom management for multiple sclerosis.

BCY MS Connect Pam ValentineDr Pamela Valentine
President & CEO, MS Society of Canada - Dinner Keynote Speaker

A trained research scientist, Pam comes to the MS Society from Alberta Innovates where she spent over a decade and a half leading innovation and change. Her leadership at Alberta Innovates included significantly growing the health research portfolio and strengthening integration of research and health systems to maximize impact for patients and providers. She also led the establishment of a new Alberta Innovates organization that consolidated four corporations across the health, energy, agriculture, and forestry sectors. Pam started her career as a faculty member at the University of Calgary at Hotchkiss Brain Institute and then moved to Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research where she held several leadership roles.

Pam believes strongly in collaboration and building robust relationships and has had a career of working with various stakeholders including from government, private sector and clinical networks. Collaborating with the board, she will lead a new strategic undertaking that will ensure the MS Society remains a strong national, bilingual organization that delivers exceptional community-based programs focused on enhancing the quality of life of Canadians living with MS.

Hailing from Calgary, Pam is a published researcher and has been awarded the Canadian Psychological Association of Excellence and the Neuroscience Canada Foundation Award. Pam believes in achieving impact in the health domain, a passion she developed as a basic scientist with a strong desire to facilitate the linkage between basic research and clinical care. Pam is motivated and excited by the ability to touch people affected by MS and their families in a more tangible way.

BCY MS Connect Jane GallagherJane Gallagher
Certified Yoga Therapist

Jane Gallagher is the founder and lead instructor of Sunflower Yoga & Healing Arts. She is a Certified Yoga Therapist who has a passion for sharing self healing knowledge with others. Jane teaches in such a way that people of all ages can find ease and comfort in their own unique bodies and situations. She finds great pleasure in being able to adapt the program to the needs of the individual and/or group. As a Reiki Master, Jane incorporates the nurturing, healing energy of Reiki into her teachings.

BCY MS Connect Megan WilliamsonMegan Williamson, BA, CPT

Megan’s interest in human movement began at the age of 14 where as a competitive dancer she began teaching her own dance classes. She pursued a career as a choreographer in dance and completed a Bachelor’s Degree at University of California Irvine. Following this Megan quickly transitioned into the fitness industry which eventually led to working as a personal trainer in Southern California at Equinox, one of the most prestigious health clubs in the nation.

Megan left Equinox with 6 years of experience working with clients from the ages of 13 to 82 years old, mainly working with middle aged adults and or those who have needed rehabilitation post-surgery or injury. Arthritis, osteoarthritis and Cerebral Palsy were some common challenges that her clients were working with. The next few years were then spent taking courses that focused on rehab or functional training, such as Functional Movement Screening (FMS), Post Rehab Fitness, Rehab Specialists, Special Populations Training, and Nutrition. Megan also completed over 150 hours of hands on experience as a Physical Therapist Aid within the last year of residing in LA.

Upon moving to beautiful Vancouver in June of 2014, Megan completed 26 credits in kinesiology at the University of British Columbia and began volunteering as a personal trainer in PARC at ICORD, an adapted gym specifically for those with spinal cord injuries (SCI) and other disabilities. Within this time frame of three years, Megan attended and completed the Spinalis course on Spinal Cord Injury and Training which is based out of Sweden.

Megan can now be found within the community running adapted boot camps, training night events for Spinal Cord Injury BC, or creating one on one customized programs for those living with spinal cord injury or MS. In November of this year, Megan will be teaming up with the city of Surrey to educate their recreational center staff through workshops geared at accessible fitness and wheelchair training.

BCY MS Connect Laura BarryLaura Barry
MS Knowledge Network

Laura grew up caring for her parents, both living with chronic conditions. Laura’s mom who is currently living with MS has demonstrated the power of positivity and has been a role model in utilising resilience to stay mentally and physically strong. From what Laura has learned from her mom and her experience as a caregiver has set her on a career path that would allow her to help others. Laura graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with a Masters of Social Work and began her role with the MS Society of Canada in 2014 where she currently works as an Analyst for the MS Knowledge Network.

BCY MS Connect Brenda WorthingtonBrenda Worthington
Person living with MS

Brenda worked as operations manager for an international floor-covering distributor, attended college at night and volunteered as a Big Sister in my spare time. In 1979, she was diagnosed with MS, and went on LTD in 1992. She trained as a Peer Support volunteer, and then joined the board of the Lower Mainland Chapter for twelve years, serving in various capacities. From 1996 to the present, she coordinated the MS massage program with the West Coast College of Massage Therapy (WCCMT). Barbara Alldritt, editor of Shared Voices, the then Lower Mainland Chapter and now province-wide newsletter, mentored her. Brenda took over when Barbara stepped down in 2004. Brenda's interests include travel, books and especially, exercise.

BCY MS Connect Ray MillerRay Miller
Person living with MS

Ray Miller experienced his first attack at 24 years old in the midst of working nights at an Ice Arena in Victoria, singing with bands and competing in Karaoke contests. Like many others, his diagnosis came after many doctor theories, attempts at treatment and observation. Six months later which is relatively quick, the symptoms were finally, at least partially, explained with a diagnosis of MS. While Ray was never an athlete growing up, in the time since his diagnosis he has learned to run, swim, do marathons, triathlons, and has even finished the Ironman twice! He is always flying the banner that anyone can do this, even someone with MS all it takes is patience! Now 15 years later, Ray works full time in a challenging industry and volunteers with the MS Society in various roles. He helps in any way he can.

BCY MS Connect Donna PaproskiDr. Donna Paproski, PhD
Registered Psychologist

Donna Paproski is a Registered Psychologist in British Columbia specializing in therapy with adults, couples, as well as adolescents and children. She incorporates a variety of strategies in response to the needs and preferences of her clients. These approaches include mindfulness techniques, self assessment and monitoring, ACT and CBT, nonverbal expression, somatic awareness, as well as psychodynamic psychotherapy. She has been in private practice for over 20 years.