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Veteran MS Researcher Receives Award

Published on March 5, 2013 in Cornerstone Blog · Last updated 4 months 2 weeks ago


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At a recent event in Cherry Hill, N.J., longtime CHOP researcher Judith Grinspan, PhD, received the “Professional Impact Award” from the Greater Delaware Valley Multiple Sclerosis Society. Dr. Grinspan has spent more than 25 years examining how multiple sclerosis damages the nervous system, and ways that damage might be repaired.

Dr. Grinspan was the first researcher to receive this new award from the Greater Delaware Valley Multiple Sclerosis Society. Serving Philadelphia and its surrounding counties as well as southern New Jersey, the Delaware Valley Chapter raises funds to support multiple sclerosis research and patient assistance, and publishes the MSConnection newsletter.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an often debilitating chronic disease of the central nervous system in which myelin — the fatty sheath that insulates the nerves — is damaged, leading to nerve signaling loss. Symptoms of MS include numbness, weakness in the limbs, vision problems, and progressive disability. MS affects approximately 90 out of 100,000 people, and is mainly seen between the ages of 20 and 40. Pediatric MS is less common, representing perhaps 5 percent of all multiple sclerosis patients.

There is no cure for multiple sclerosis. While a variety of drugs exist to manage the disease’s symptoms and to slow its progression, current treatments are only effective up to a certain point, Dr. Grinspan pointed out. Including her postdoctoral research, Dr. Grinspan has been researching MS since 1986.

Much of Dr. Grinspan’s research has been devoted to better understanding oligodendrocytes, cells of the central nervous system that produce myelin. Her work on these cells recently led to a collaboration with neonatologist Rebecca Simmons, MD, examining intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), a relatively common complication of pregnancy. The researchers looked at the process of oxidative stress — an imbalance between free radicals and free radical scavengers that is commonly associated with prematurity and IUGR.

Overall, Dr. Grinspan’s work wouldn’t be possible without funding from organizations like the Multiple Sclerosis Society. “I am honored to have won this award and am thankful that the MS society has enabled me to do this research through their continued support,” Dr. Grinspan said.

To learn more about the work being done by CHOP neurologists, see the Division of Neurology’s website.