UB’s Pediatric MS Center Shares in National Network Grant

Bianca Weinstock-Guttman, MD

Bianca Weinstock-Guttman, MD, leads one of nine national centers of excellence devoted to studying demyelinating diseases in children.

Published July 9, 2013

The University at Buffalo’s Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Center of Excellence will share in a $2.5 million National Multiple Sclerosis Society grant announced July 1.

“This renewed support advances research on the pediatric MS population that will provide important data to better understand the disease.”
Bianca Weinstock-Guttman, MD
Professor of neurology and director, UB Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence

The grant supports the research, coordination and data management efforts of a nine-center national network engaged in collaborative study of demyelinating diseases in children.

Although MS is often considered an adult disease, it affects as many as 10,000-15,000 American children.

Research Includes Cognitive, Risk Factor Studies

“This renewed support advances research on the pediatric MS population that will provide important data to better understand the disease and hopefully bring us closer to better treating and eventually preventing MS,” says Bianca Weinstock-Guttman, MD, professor of neurology and director of the local pediatric MS center.

UB is or will soon be involved in studying numerous aspects of MS in children, including:

  • genetic and environmental risk factors for MS
  • gut microbiome in MS patients
  • the cognitive status of children who have MS or have had an acute disseminated encephalomyelitis event
  • volume changes in the brain’s thalamus region, a network-wide prospective MRI analysis led by Robert Zivadinov, MD, PhD, professor of neurology and director of the Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center

Western New York has much to gain from research efforts, as it has one of the highest prevalence rates of multiple sclerosis in the United States.

MS Society Supports Global Collaboration

“Our continuing investment provides the infrastructure and research support needed to keep this unique network―with the largest group of well-characterized pediatric MS cases in the world―moving forward,” says Timothy Coetzee, PhD, National MS Society chief research officer.

The Buffalo center received an initial $1.8 million grant in 2006 as one of six original members of the MS Society’s pediatric network. Located at the Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, it is operated by the hospital and the Department of Neurology.

Other centers in the network now include Children’s Hospital Boston, Loma Linda University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Stony Brook University Medical Center, Texas Children’s Hospital, University of Alabama at Birmingham and University of California, San Francisco.

The network also includes the University of Utah Data Coordinating and Analysis Center, which provides patient registry and center collaboration services.

In addition, the U.S. network is closely allied with global research efforts through the International Pediatric MS Study Group.