When I finished graduate school and decided I wanted to do research on neurologic disease, I went to work with one of the first women studying myelin, Dr. Marjorie Lees. Marjorie inspired me to build my research around understanding myelin and oligodendrocytes which are damaged in MS.
Over the years, my research has built on her training and kept me focused on identifying how myelin is made and repaired in the brain. There has been very exciting, fast progress over the past two decades in identifying new therapeutics that reduce the immune component of MS, but there remains damage in the central nervous system.
Much of my research – and the research of scientists like me – is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). So, earlier this month I joined more than 300 activists, doctors and researchers from across the country to discuss with Congress why funding for the NIH must be a top priority.
“Our past teaches us that the investments we make now are bound to pay off many times over in the years to come. To carry forward our proud legacy of progress in our time, we must support the science and research of today. If we continue to pursue advances in medical research, we can improve the health of people in our country and around the world.”
– President Obama in a letter of support to attendees
of the 2014 Rally for Medical Research
The NIH is the largest source of funding for medical research in the world and has been a driving force behind decades of advances that have improved the health of people in every “corner” of the globe. We must address a disease that affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide. Unfortunately, Congress’ funding of the NIH has been flat for decades; in 2013, the NIH awarded 640 fewer research grants than in 2012 (due to sequestration). We cannot afford to lose the new generation of scientists who will identify crucial aspects of treatment for MS.
In my meetings with the offices of Senators Michael Bennett and Mark Udall, and Representatives Jared Polis and Diana DeGette, we built amazing connections, and I know that what I had to say really informed their understanding of the importance of NIH funding in Colorado. For the past five years I have taught at the University of Colorado Medical School – each office was excited to hear about the groundbreaking myelin research taking place in their home states and districts.
It’s easy to learn more about cutting-edge research that will change the face of MS. Please, get involved in whatever way you can! Participate in studies, give, advocate, learn! Together we can end MS, forever.
Wendy Macklin, PhD, is an internationally recognized authority on the molecular biology of myelin protein genes. She is Stanford- and Yale-educated, and now Professor and Chair of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Colorado Medical School in Denver. Dr. Macklin has served on many study sections including at the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and the National MS Society. She is on the editorial boards of several journals including the Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Neurochemistry, the Journal of Neuroscience Research, Developmental Neuroscience, and the International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience.