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AAN Foundation and National Multiple Sclerosis Society Honor Boston Researcher

CHICAGO – The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Foundation and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society awarded the 2008 AAN Foundation/National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) Clinician-Scientist Development Fellowship to Christopher Severson, MD, with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, for his work to determine the mechanism through which a newly discovered MS-susceptibility gene influences the immune system to lead to the development of MS. The two-year, $164,000 fellowship was announced during the American Academy of Neurology's 60th Annual Meeting in Chicago, held April 12–19, 2008. The AAN Foundation/NMSS Clinician Scientist Development Fellowship is designed to encourage MS clinical research with the goal of providing better treatment, prevention or cure for the disorder. Severson’s grant proposed a study of a gene called Interleukin-2 Receptor Alpha Gene (IL2RA), which has been recently linked to the risk of developing MS. “Depending on which version of this gene is inherited, a person will either be more susceptible to or more protected from developing MS than people with other versions of the gene,” Severson said. “This gene encodes a protein that is known to be important in regulating the immune system, but at the current time no one knows how different versions of this gene result in changes in MS risk. This study will investigate the effects of the different MS susceptibility variants of this gene on the immune system and how these effects may lead to the development of the disease.” The fellowship includes tuition reimbursement for education in clinical research methodology. The American Academy of Neurology Foundation works with the American Academy of Neurology to support research for the prevention, treatment and cure of neurologic disorders.

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 21,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke. For more information, visit

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