New MS fellowship to fast track breakthroughs

05 September, 2017

Dr Kaylene Young and Professor Bruce Taylor from the Menzies Institute for Medical Research at the University of Tasmania.

A new MS Research Australia fellowship in partnership with the Macquarie Group Foundation will enable a senior research fellow and a clinician to work together to ‘fast-track’ research breakthroughs and improve outcomes for people living with MS.

The MS Research Australia-Macquarie Group Foundation Paired Fellowship addresses one of the key recommendations made in the 2013 McKeon Review into Health and Medical Research, which was for clinicians to participate in the research process. This is to break down the barriers between the lab and the people-based research done in the clinic to ensure faster translation of research discoveries into better health outcomes in the community. The Review also recommended that 1,000 practitioner fellowships be funded within 10 years.

The Commonwealth Health Minister, the Hon Greg Hunt MP said, ‘Australia’s status as a health and medical research powerhouse depends on the talent of researchers. MS Research Australia is leading the way with this new initiative.’

Dr Matthew Miles, CEO, MS Research Australia adds that, ‘Our new grant program launches a unique initiative, identified in this country as a strategic goal of great importance. We believe this to be the first ever research practitioner/researcher fellowship fully funded by philanthropic means.’

‘The leadership shown by the Macquarie Group Foundation in co-funding this fellowship with MS Research Australia will hopefully lead other philanthropic supporters to do the same,’ Dr Miles said.

‘The Macquarie Group Foundation is pleased to support this important initiative in collaboration with MS Research Australia, which addresses a clearly demonstrated gap in medical research in Australia,’ said Lisa George, Head of the Macquarie Group Foundation. ‘We hope this paired fellowship will provide great outcomes for many people with MS.’

In a competitive process, the inaugural recipients of this fellowship are Dr Kaylene Young and Professor Bruce Taylor from the Menzies Institute for Medical Research at the University of Tasmania.

Currently, there is no treatment that can prevent nervous system damage in people with MS. Dr Young (laboratory based MS researcher) and Professor Taylor’s (clinical MS researcher) clear objective is to expedite new treatments that can protect and repair the nervous system. The two are also leading Australia’s first MS Translation Centre at the Menzies Institute which aims to focus on moving discoveries along the pathway to change clinical practice.

Over the next three years, Dr Young and Professor Taylor will work in tandem to accelerate Dr Young’s laboratory findings into clinical practice and take Professor Taylor’s clinical discoveries into the laboratory to help develop targeted new treatments that aim to prevent or halt nervous system damage.

Professor Taylor said ‘Through my clinical research I have been able to link a particular genetic change with the development of MS. I am looking forward to working with Dr Young to move this clinical finding into the laboratory in order to identify how we can develop a drug that can protect the nervous system against MS-related injury.’

Dr Young further explained that ‘by working with Professor Taylor, I will be able to determine whether the treatment I have been investigating in the lab is safe for people with MS by progressing the treatment into a clinical trial.’

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