#WhenYourParentHasMS You Stand Strong for MS Research

From a young age, I have been interested in the science behind my mother’s multiple sclerosis diagnosis. I knew that I wanted to be part of the medical community. After many years working in the hospital during my undergraduate career, as an emergency medical technician, as well as shadowing neurosurgeons and performing research during my master’s program, I chose the bench (research) over bedside (treating patients). At that time, a majority of therapies targeted symptoms, not the source, of MS, and there were no therapies available to treat progressive MS. So, I have researched neurodegeneration and repair in the brain; specifically myelin repair

In July, I started as a National MS Society research fellow at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in the lab of Stephen D. Miller, PhD. In addition to my focus on myelin repair, as a neuroimmunologist, I have the opportunity to pursue selective immune suppression. Ideally, selective immune suppression will lead to decreased (or even absence of) relapses, and myelin repair will mean the ability to repair damage.  As neurodegeneration underlies MS, effective disease-modifying therapies need to both regulate the immune system and promote restoration of neuronal function, including remyelination. Soon, I hope to be able to move from pre-clinical therapeutic trials into patient trials – and improve peoples’ quality of life in all stages of MS.

As an MS researcher, I can see that we are making breakthroughs each and every day to better understand causes, find new treatments and, ultimately, cure MS. The combination of MS research funded privately by the MS Society and publically by the National Institute of Health (NIH) is critical. NIH funding supports research projects and the training of students and post-doctoral fellows. When NIH budgets are decreased, fewer ongoing research projects and fewer scientists remain. Further, investment in medical research pays off two-fold: improved quality of life for patients and a decreased financial burden on individuals, families and the government for medical expenses. 

My voice matters as an MS researcher, but the most important voice I have is that of someone affected by MS. Join me and activists from more than 300 causes and organizations in the Rally for Medical Research on September 17: urge Congress to increase funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the largest source of funding for medical research in the world, and the driving force behind the improved health of hundreds of thousands of people living with MS in America. Share your story to urge Congress to invest in medical research through the NIH.



Tags Activism & Advocacy, Research, Treatment      5 Appreciate this
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Haley Titus-Mitchell , PhD

Dr. Haley Titus-Mitchell has been awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at Northwestern University in the lab of Steven D Miller, PhD. She earned a BA in zoology/neuroscience from Miami University (Oxford, OH), a MS in anatomy from Wright State University (Fairborn, OH), and completed her PhD studies in neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine/Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Her personal and professional life goal is to cure multiple sclerosis as her mother has secondary progressive MS. She is an active philanthropist in her local community and has a long-standing relationship as a board member with her local chapter of the National MS Society. 

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  • Constance Chevalier   Sep 15, 2015 12:53 PM
    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have Primary Progressive MS and agree with everything you said.
  • wewaf12  Sep 15, 2015 12:56 PM
    Wow I wish I could meet you. I would like to give you a big hug and thank you for being such a kind, giving adult child. I feel like I gave my kids every thing I had when I was well and even now that I am not well two of them and the other ones spouse just keep taking. And it is making me sicker because of the stress. I try not to help them but they have kids and then they use that to make me feel bad. Anyways you are a saint. I will forever be cheering you on.
  • Lisa Scroggins   Sep 15, 2015 1:09 PM
    I'm very grateful for the work that you do. My mother also had MS, but I do as well, as do two of my sisters. In the past few years, I've had to stop working and there seems to be no end to the worsening I've experienced. I've really stopped believing that there will be a cure in my lifetime. But I would certainly love to be wrong. Thanks again
  • Cici   Sep 15, 2015 1:15 PM

    Thank you for your ongoing research not only to find a cure but to repair the Myelyn damage being done to all of us. As a mother living with RR MS, since 1997, it would be awesome if one day I could kick my flats and sandals to the curb, and put on my 4/5 in. heels once again! Never give up hope.

    Thank you,thank you, thank you !
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    SmartyPants  Sep 15, 2015 6:45 PM
    You make your mother proud by doing the lifework you chose. She stands with you every day while you try to find a cure for this disease. I have MS and have lived with it over 10 years, my mother was a source of inspiration, and she taught me well how to stand up and fight for what I wanted. Two months ago, my mother and I spend her last 16 days together, she died June 12, my heart is broken and i miss her every day. She could tell by my voice or how i looked, that i needed to rest and take care of myself. You see I spent decades taking care of everyone else. I worked 3 years in service to people with disabilities to only become disabled myself. But it turned out to be fine, i retired, then found my journals in my closet and opened them and started chuckling, and I wrote three books. The journals told about the time when I first moved to Oregon, when I lived in the Wallowa Mts doing timber stand inventories. The mostly male crew used to tease me but I soon became "the queen of the comeback". I now enjoy writing all day and remembering my life in a positive way. Having MS isn't so bad, i have severe back pain and a right leg that is partially paralyzed, but when i go to my massage guy, he can press on the side of my leg on a band of nerves and it makes my leg move when it usually doesn't. My muscles still hold the memory of how they used to move, but because of the brain the signal doesn't reach it. My hope is that we find a cure and then my leg that hasn't atrophied will work just fine. Keep up the work for your mother and all of us out here that are affected by MS. You have done her proud.
  • Wanda nesbett   Sep 15, 2015 8:01 PM
    Wonderful article. Thanks for all you do, and congrats on your most recent accomplishment.
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    haleytm11  Sep 15, 2015 9:28 PM
    Thank you for all of the positive comments :)
  • Jennifer Finley   Sep 16, 2015 1:09 AM
    Thank you for all the research you do. I was diagnosed in 2005 with MS and at that time they estimated I had been in remission for 9 years. I was 38 years old. So if they are accurate in how long I have had MS, then I am 😊 going on 19 years and I can walk, praise Jesus... I thank God everyday that I can walk. I still use Rebif to treat my MS and I haven't had very many setbacks. I have tried two other therapies for my MS, capaxone and the other one was a pill and I was allergic to both and returned to Rebif. I don't have any family members with MS, so the doctors think a rough child birth brought it on. Please tell me where to contact congress to help with research. Thank you 😊.
  • Michael Kimmel   Sep 16, 2015 9:28 AM
    This is a wonderful article. Well done Haley. As your uncle, I know how proud of you our family is, particularly your amazing Mom (my sister). You are doing great work that will change the world. Carry on!
  • Malia Litman   Sep 16, 2015 2:42 PM
    Evolution of the Feminine Mystique: Searching for Happily Ever After is my new book about stress in the life of women today and how that can aggravate MS. Hope you find it entertaining and helpful. Malia
  • Jennifer   Sep 18, 2015 11:03 AM
    Thank you for your work and concern in looking for the cure for MS. I was diagnosed with RRMS in 2009 but have not had any relapses since. I can only live for the day and never allow MS to get me down.

    Keep up the good work; hoping to see the cure in my lifetime.