Research Strategy: Working to Australian MS Research Strengths

MS Research Australia implements an informed scientific agenda to accelerate advances that will prevent, better treat and ultimately cure multiple sclerosis.

The MS Research Australia scientific agenda focuses on funding research that will increase our understanding of the biology driving MS and how to stop MS from triggering the disease, causing further damage and how to repair existing damage that can reverse disability. This is a medium to long-term strategy. It requires extensive funding, collaboration and coordination.

In the short term, MS Research Australia funds clinical research that measures the benefits of alternative symptom management approaches. Social research through the Australian MS Longitudinal Study measures the physical, social and economic impact of MS on Australians for advocacy and service development purposes.

MS Research Australia Research Strategy Overview

  1. What triggers MS? Can we prevent the onset of MS?
  2. What biology is driving MS? How can we stop it?
  3. Can existing neural damage be repaired or replaced?

To address these significant unknowns, MS Research Australia invests in five research streams. Funding in these streams includes both investigator-driven applications and 'platform' funding (see a summary in the table, and more detailed information below):

Research Stream MS Research Australia Funded Research
1. Social and Applied Research
2. Genetics and Epidemiology
3. Immunology and Virology
4. Neurobiology
5. Clinical Trials

 

How MS Research Australia Identifies High Quality Research

MS Research Australia identifies significant MS research in two ways; the first is via an annual peer-review process, the second is by proactively identifying, coordinating and funding major collaborative projects called 'Platforms'.

1. Supporting Serendipitous Discoveries

Each year MS Research Australia initiates a rigorous international peer-review process to identify high quality MS research to fund. Annually MS Research Australia will fund approximately $2million in projects and capacity-building grants including fellowships and scholarships.

MS Research Australia grants give scientists an opportunity to focus on generating new insights that inform our understanding of the disease. Capacity building is an investment in the future of MS research by creating opportunities for early career researchers to gain scientific training, to learn from leading MS experts and nurture a commitment to cure MS. These early career researchers are the next generation of MS experts.

For more information on:

2. PLATFORMS: Proactively Accelerating Blue Sky Research

Platforms represent a major investment in infrastructure or a collaboration that will accelerate MS research activity. MS Research Australia acts as a catalyst for blue sky research. We work with researchers to undertake the research that other funding agencies consider ‘too risky’ to fund but has the potential to yield the greatest outcomes for People with MS.

With guidance from the broader scientific and health professional community, MS Research Australia establishes and maintains national collaborations to address scientific questions that no one researcher could solve in isolation.

Currently, MS Research Australia has several Platforms underway including:

In developing a Platform, MS Research Australia consults with as many relevant Australian and international researchers as possible.

This ensures that we only fund Platforms that:

  • complement the world-wide research effort without duplication,
  • fund a highly focused initiative with clear goals and timeframes,
  • and identify potential obstacles early and solutions to overcome them quickly.

MS Research Australia’s research approach has changed the way MS researchers can do MS research in Australia.