Australian Leads Development of World’s Largest MS Database

06 October, 2017
Professor Helmut Butzkueven

Professor Helmut Butzkueven

Melbourne University’s Professor Helmut Butzkueven has been awarded Research Australia’s Data Innovation Award for his incredible work developing MSBase, the world’s largest Multiple Sclerosis (MS) database sharing, tracking and evaluating clinical data in more than 55,000 people with MS from 33 countries. MS is a debilitating disease affecting 23,000 Australians. While there is no cure, a range of treatments are offered to reduce the symptoms, delay the onset and improve quality of life.

“We don’t know why some treatments work better than others for some people living with MS. That’s where data, on the scale collected by MSBase, is so necessary.

“The Data Innovation Award is presented to an individual or team that has developed the most innovative method of gathering and sharing data in a way that advances health and medical research.

“MSBase is evidence of Australian innovation on a global scale which is improving the lives patients,” said Research Australia CEO, Nadia Levin.

Professor Butzkueven, a neurologist and internationally recognised MS researcher based at the Melbourne Brain Centre, Royal Melbourne and Box Hill Hospitals, is the driving force behind MSBase.

Professor Butzkueven received early career support from MS Research Australia, with a MS Research Australia-NHMRC co-funded Practitioner Fellowship in 2006. He and members of his lab have also received many other MS Research Australia grants since this time, including incubator grants, project grants, scholarships and fellowships. Notably, a Fellowship was awarded to Professor Butzkueven’s colleague, Dr Tomas Kalincik, now an Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne. Dr Kalincik has worked extensively on the MSBase data. Professor Butzkueven is also integrally involved in several of MS Research Australia’s national collaborative research platforms including being co-Principal investigator on the PrevANZ vitamin D MS prevention trial, a member of  the ANZgene MS Genetics Consortium, and a member of the Australian MS Longitudinal Study Project Management team. Since 2015, he has also been the convener of our biennial Progress in MS Research Conference.

Since its inception in 2004, MSBase has accumulated an outstanding list of achievements that have transformed the clinical management of MS, including:

  • Head-to-head ‘virtual’ clinical trials of different MS medications
  • Comparisons of long-term effectiveness of different MS treatments
  • Revealing clinical predictors of long-term disability in MS
  • Clear evidence for the benefits of early treatment in reducing the long-term impact of MS

“MS Base has been crucial to defining the real world outcomes for people with MS. It has led to the development of consensus guidelines for the treatment of MS patients worldwide. None of this would have been possible without the original vision and ongoing drive of Professor Butzkueven,” said Dr Matthew Miles, CEO of MS Research Australia.

More information about Research Australia is available at
More information about MSBase is available at
More information about MS Research Australia is available at

Source: Adapted from Research Australia media release

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