Kessler Foundation Marks MS Awareness Month with New Grants, Advances in Research
WEST ORANGE, N.J.—As March drew to a close, Kessler Foundation, a leader in cognitive rehabilitation research in multiple sclerosis (MS), announced the receipt of new grants from the National MS Society and the Consortium of MS Centers. The grants fund studies aimed at improving memory, predicting memory decline and exploring deficits in emotional processing in people with MS. At Kessler Foundation, MS research is conducted by scientists in Neuropsychology & Neuroscience Research, under the leadership of Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, director.
“Multiple sclerosis is often diagnosed when people are in the prime of their lives,” said Dr. DeLuca, vice president of Research and Training. “At Kessler Foundation, we conduct research to not only improve the brain function of individuals with MS, but to also help them stay active in their communities and continue working for as long as possible. As a result, their quality of life improves. Our team of internationally known researchers is dedicated to finding new treatments to help them live better lives.”
With the opening of the Kessler Foundation Center for Neuroimaging Research this spring, advances in research will occur at a more rapid pace. Equipped with a 3T Siemens Skyra Scanner, the center will be one of the few on-site imaging centers at rehabilitation institutions dedicated solely to research in the nation. More studies will incorporate neuroimaging techniques that enable researchers to correlate brain structure, function and behavior, providing new understanding of brain injury, stroke and MS.
“The imaging center is a unique resource that will expand our collaborative research,” said Dr. DeLuca. Foundation researchers currently collaborate with scientists across the country and internationally, including Italy, Spain, China and Portugal, to develop new strategies for cognitive rehabilitation and examine brain-behavior relations.
Kessler Foundation’s MS research update includes:
Dr. DeLuca, well known for his work in MS, was honored with the 2012 Medical Excellence Award by Musical Moments for MS—part of the New Jersey Metro Chapter of the National MS Society. He also gave a keynote address at the inaugural meeting of the International Progressive Multiple Sclerosis Collaborative (IPMSC) in Milan.
Research presented at the American Academy of Neurology Conference was highlighted by Andrew Bebo, PhD, associate VP of Discovery Research at the National MS Society. “Emerging evidence suggests that exercise doesn’t just help keep us physically fit,” he said, “but also helps our brains function better; presentations … on exercise, rehabilitation and quality of life issues suggest this holds true for people living with MS.” Dr. Bebo referred to presentations by Drs. Victoria Leavitt and James Sumowski, research scientists in Neuropsychology & Neuroscience Research, on aerobic exercise and cognitive reserve in individuals with MS.
Publication of important findings:
- Chiaravalloti, N.D., Stojanovic-Radic, J., DeLuca, J. (2013). The role of speed versus working memory in predicting learning new information in multiple Sclerosis. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, in press.
- Chiaravalloti, N.D., Wylie, G., Leavitt, V., Deluca, J. (2012) Increased cerebral activation after behavioral treatment for memory deficits in MS. Journal of Neurology. DOI: 10.1007/s00415-011-6353-x.
- DeLuca, J. & Nocentini, U. (2011). Neuropsychological, medical and rehabilitative management of persons with multiple sclerosis. NeuroRehabilitation, 29, 197-219.
- Leavitt, V.M., Wylie, G.R., Girgis, P.A., Deluca, J., Chiaravalloti, N.D. (2012, June). Increased functional connectivity within memory networks following memory rehabilitation in multiple sclerosis. Brain Imaging and Behavior. [Epub ahead of print].
- Leavitt, V.M., Sumowski, J.F., Chiaravalloti, N., DeLuca, J. (2012). Warmer outdoor temperature is associated with worse cognitive status in multiple sclerosis. Neurology. Mar 27;78(13):964-8.
- Strober, L.B., Christodoulou, C., Benedict, R.H., Westervelt, H.J., Melville, P., Scherl, W., Weinstock-Guttman, B., Rizvi, S., Goodman, A.D., Krupp, L.B. (2012). Unemployment in multiple sclerosis: the contribution of personality and disease. Multiple Sclerosis. 18(5), 644-650.
- Sumowski, J.F., Wylie, G.R., Leavitt, V.M., Chiaravalloti N.D., DeLuca J. (2013). Default network activity is a sensitive and specific biomarker of memory in MS. Multiple Sclerosis Journal, 19, 199-208.
- Strober, L.B. & DeLuca, J. (2012). Fatigue: its influence on cognition and on assessment. In P. Arnett (Ed.), Secondary Influences on Neuropsychological Test Performance (pp. 117-141), Oxford University Press.
About MS Research at Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation's cognitive rehabilitation research in MS is funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, National MS Society, Consortium of MS Centers, and Kessler Foundation. Scientists in Neuropsychology & Neuroscience Research at Kessler Foundation have made important contributions to knowledge of cognitive decline in MS. Clinical studies span new learning, memory, executive function, attention and processing speed. Research tools include innovative applications of fMRI and virtual reality. Among recent findings are the benefits of cognitive reserve; correlation between cognitive performance and outdoor temperatures; the efficacy of short-term cognitive rehabilitation using modified story technique; and the correlation between memory improvement and cerebral activation on fMRI.
About Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit KesslerFoundation.org.