Lisa Barcellos, Professor of Epidemiology at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and Director of the Center of Computational Biology in the College of Engineering has been awarded a five-year grant from the U.S. National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR). The award will fund Dr. Barcellos’ collaborative research on a big data approach to understanding what contributes to clinical outcomes in multiple sclerosis (MS) with colleagues at Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California. MS involves an immune-mediated process in which an abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. Within the CNS, the immune system causes inflammation that damages myelin that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers, as well as the nerve fibers themselves, and the specialized cells that make myelin.
Scientists believe the disease is triggered by environmental factor(s) in a person who is genetically predisposed. The severity, progression and specific symptoms of MS in any one person, including cognitive impairment, cannot yet be predicted. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50; women are 2-3X more likely to be diagnosed than men.
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