MS Walk

MS Connect Speakers

Dr. Wee Yong Keynote Speaker: Dr. Wee Yong

Dr. Wee Yong is a Professor and neuroscientist at the University of Calgary. He co-leads the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) NeuroTeam at the university and he directs the provincial Alberta MS Network. Dr. Yong has published 305 peer-reviewed research manuscripts which have been cited over 30,000 times by other researchers. He is a past chair of the Medical Advisory Committee of the MS Society of Canada; this and other volunteer activities resulted in him receiving the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Year Medallion. Dr. Yong has been the President of the International Society of Neuroimmunology, an organization of researchers that study how the brain and immune system interacts. He is the 2017 Allyn Taylor International Prize in Medicine winner.

Presentation Title: Advances in MS: Lifestyle, medications and brain repair


Dr. Yong will describe the many research advances occurring in MS. These include the role of lifestyle factors such as diet that alters immune cells, and exercise that promotes the repair of myelin in experimental models. Dr. Yong will also overview advances in MS treatment, including medications aimed at promoting brain repair.

Dr. Alice Schabas Dr. Alice Schabas

Dr. Alice Schabas is a clinical neurologist specializing in the care of patients with Multiple Sclerosis. She completed her medical education at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Following that, she did her neurology residency training here in Vancouver. Finally, she completed a fellowship in Multiple Sclerosis at the University of British Columbia. Her interests include: quality improvement for enhanced patient care and symptomatic management for patients with Multiple Sclerosis.

Presentation Title: The Canadian Prospective Cohort (CanProCo) Study to Understand Progression in MS


The overarching aim of CanProCo is to evaluate a wide spectrum of factors associated with the onset and rate of disease progression in MS, and to describe how these factors relate to one another to influence progression.

Dr. Jason Plemel Dr. Jason Plemel

Dr. Jason Plemel began his training in the laboratory of Dr. Wolfram Tetzlaff where he completed his Doctorate. There he investigated two separate strategies to improve white matter regeneration: transplantation of precursor cells to replace lost oligodendrocytes and cell culture to find novel targets to improve remyelination. During Dr. Plemel’s postdoctoral work he studied the contribution of microglia following myelin injury in the laboratories of Dr. Peter Stys and Dr. Wee Yong. His interdisciplinary project investigated mechanisms of how immune cells respond to primary degeneration and developed a new tool to image cell death and injury using spectral microscopy. In his new faculty appointment at the University of Alberta, Dr. Plemel and his laboratory will investigate how microglia play an important role in the regeneration of injured white matter, but also how microglia can induce injury to white matter during different disease conditions.

Presentation Title: Remyelination: New Challenges in Multiple Sclerosis


Multiple sclerosis is characterized by inflammatory activity that results in destruction of the myelin sheaths that enwrap axons. The currently available medications for multiple sclerosis are predominantly immune-modulating and do not directly promote repair. White matter regeneration, or remyelination, is a new and exciting potential approach to treating multiple sclerosis, as remyelination repairs the damaged regions of the central nervous system. A wealth of new strategies in animal models that promote remyelination, including the repopulation of oligodendrocytes that produce myelin, has led to several clinical trials to test new reparative therapies. In this talk, I will highlight the biology of, and obstacles to, remyelination. I will also discuss recent evidence from my lab on the role of microglia during remyelination.

Dr. Rajiv Reebye, MD, FRCPC Dr. Rajiv Reebye, MD, FRCPC

Dr. Rajiv Reebye is a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PMR) specialist and Clinical Associate Professor in the department of Medicine at the University of British Columbia (UBC). He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada (FRCPC) and holds a specialist certificate in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

Dr. Reebye is an attending physician on the inpatient neuro-musculoskeletal program and on the outpatient acquired brain injury and neuro-musculoskeletal programs at GF Strong Rehabilitation Center, Vancouver, Canada. He is also a consulting physician in the spinal cord clinic at BC Children’s Hospital and at the UBC Multiple Sclerosis Clinic. He is the director of the New Westminster Rehabilitation Medicine spasticity clinic- a community based spasticity clinic focusing on the treatment of patients with adult spasticity from multiple sclerosis, stroke and spinal cord injuries and also children with neuromuscular conditions transitioning to adulthood.

Dr. Reebye is also co-founder of the Canadian advances in neuro-orthopedics for spasticity congress (CANOSC), an organization created to provide excellence in enhancing collaborative care between physicians and surgeons for the treatment of spasticity. His clinical and research interests include treating neuropathic pain in patients with multiple sclerosis, enhancing spasticity management and the use of ultrasound guided injections of botulinum toxin in the treatment of spasticity.

Dr. Reebye is very involved in teaching resident physicians and fellows in the departments of physiatry, geriatric medicine, neurology and rheumatology. He is one of the founding members of the pain fellowship program at UBC and has a special focus on the treatment of spasticity and neuropathic pain (nerve pain) as well as the use of ultrasound for chemodenervation (using botulinum toxin A) in patients with multiple sclerosis and neuromyelitis optica (NMO).

He also teaches locally and internationally on the use of ultrasound guided injections for spasticity management and on the treatment of neuropathic (nerve) pain. Dr. Reebye enjoys clinical teaching and was awarded the Patricia Clugston Award for Excellence in teaching and the Duncan Murray excellence in teaching award from the UBC division of PMR. He is a bilingual examiner (English and French) for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada for physiatry.

Presentation Title: Pain and Multiple Sclerosis: Myths, Facts and Reality


Objectives for this presentation:

  1. To describe the myths, realities,epidemiology of pain in MS
  2. To discuss the types of pain in MS
  3. To discuss management strategies of pain in MS
  4. To discuss future development in pain management in MS

Sarah Le Huray Dr. Dessa Sadovnick

Presentation Title: Reproduction and Multiple Sclerosis

Dr. Sadovnick is a Professor of Medical Genetics and Neurology at the University of British Columbia. She was the Director, endMS Western Pacific Research & Training Centre. She was a Michael Smith Distinguished Scholar (2001-2006), an awardee of the MS Society of Canada National Award of Merit, (2007) and awardee of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada Women Against MS Award (WAMS) award (November 2017).

Dr. Sadovnick has been the Principal Investigator of several multicenter Canadian and International collaborative research projects on Multiple Sclerosis and pediatric Multiple Sclerosis as well as dementia. She currently leads the CANPREG-MS Study, a Canada-wide prospective study of women with MS who are pregnant or who are planning a pregnancy.

She was a Developer and then Co-director of the Genetic Counselling Training Program at the University of British Columbia. She has published extensively (over 300 articles in peer-review journals) and serves as a reviewer for a wide variety of medical journals and grant review panels.

Dr. Sadovnick is a member of several National and International advisory groups and task forces for MS and dementia.

Sarah Le Huray Sarah Le Huray, MS Ambassador, Person Living with MS
Living Well with MS Panelist

Sarah Le Huray has lived with MS since 2012 and writes about MS on her blog, “Making Lemonade.” She holds an MSc in forensic anthropology and taught anatomy for two years in the UK. Sarah worked at UBC Hospital from 2005 to 2012 specializing in neurology and is now a stay at home mom to her two boys. Sarah has been interviewed by the media, which includes CKNW radio, about her experience with MS.

Michelle McCarthy, PT Michelle McCarthy, PT
Living Well with MS Panelist

Michelle McCarthy graduated from the University of Southampton, UK, in 1997 with a BSc. Hons in Physiotherapy. She began her career in 2 large teaching hospitals in London, UK and after a couple of years specialized in the area of Neurological Physiotherapy. Michelle has continued to work with clients with Neurological conditions across the continuum of care, including a Multiple Sclerosis clinic in London. Since moving to Canada in 2007, Michelle worked in acute care in Neurosciences before moving to the Multiple Sclerosis Clinic at UBC in 2017. Throughout her career Michelle has taken on leadership and educator roles and strives to develop new initiatives to provide the best possible care for clients, empowering them to effectively manage their condition. Michelle feels very fortunate to be a part of the Client's care team and be able to promote the importance of exercise for brain health.

Michelle Srdanovic, M.A., R.C.C. Michelle Srdanovic, M.A., R.C.C.
Living Well with MS Panelist

Michelle Srdanovic is a Registered Clinical Counsellor with a Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology from Simon Fraser University. Over the last 15 years, she has worked with families, couples and children using cognitive behavioural, emotion-focused and narrative therapeutic practices. In addition, Michelle has provided community education on the topics of social-emotional regulation, trauma, self-harm and anxiety. Currently, she works as a therapist in private counselling practice in New Westminster and provides clinical supervision to graduate students and other therapists. She is also part-time faculty at BCIT and continues to teach and develop coursework in the Department of Basic Health Sciences. Ironically, one of the topics Michelle teaches to health care providers is how patients adjust to chronic illness. She was diagnosed with MS in September 2013 and considers herself on a lifelong journey of making meaning out of her diagnosis.

Katie Ganassin Katie Ganassin, M.A., Manager, Community Services, BC and Yukon Division
Living Well with MS Panelist

Katie is based out of our Victoria office where she has worked since she joined the MS Society as a volunteer in 2005. She recently completed a Master of Arts in Leadership (with a healthcare specialization) at Royal Roads University. She wrote her thesis about Interorganizational Collaboration for Community Wellness and is looking forward to taking collective action on our new strategic plan with that in mind.

In her free time, Katie volunteers as the Chair of the board at Volunteer Victoria, and loves to play outside and make all kinds of things from foods to gardens to pottery.