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Kessler Foundation receives first-round grant from International Progressive Multiple Sclerosis Alliance

Cognitive research grant contributes to global effort to end progressive multiple sclerosis

Kessler Foundation


IMAGE: Dr. Chiaravalloti, director of Neuropsychology, Neuroscience & Traumatic Brain Injury Research at Kessler Foundation, is principal investigator of the new grant awarded by the International Progressive MS Alliance. view more

Credit: Kessler Foundation

West Orange, NJ. September 17, 2014. Kessler Foundation is the recipient of one of the first grants awarded by the International Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Alliance. Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, director of Neuropsychology, Neuroscience & Traumatic Brain Injury Research, is principal investigator of the study, which will look at the efficacy of cognitive rehabilitation in individuals with progressive multiple sclerosis. The Foundation received one of 22 research grants awarded by the Alliance to investigators in nine countries, with the goal of removing barriers to developing treatments for progressive MS, a devastating form of MS that affects more than one million people worldwide.

"For the first time, MS Societies around the globe are funding research together, without considering geography, in order to find the answers the progressive MS community urgently needs," announced Cynthia Zagieboylo, Chair of the Alliance Executive Committee and CEO of the National MS Society. The Alliance announced the recipients who will receive the nearly $30 million in cumulative funding over the next six years for pilot studies at a press conference held on September 11 at the ACTRIMS-ECTRIMS meeting in Boston. Grant summaries are available at

"The Alliance funds the best science with the clearest path to success, wherever it exists around the world," noted Bruce Bebo, PhD, Executive Vice President of Research at the National MS Society. Grants were awarded in 6 categories that cover a range of disciplines: Clinical trials and outcome measures, Biomarkers of progression, Gene studies, Underlying pathology, New disease models and Rehabilitation trials. Kessler Foundation's pilot study in rehabilitation addresses cognitive dysfunction, a common, disabling symptom of MS that adversely affects quality of life.

Foundation scientists have demonstrated that the modified Story Memory Technique (mSMT) improves learning and memory in persons with MS, and has a positive effect on performance of activities of everyday life and quality of life. However, this noninvasive cost-effective treatment has not yet been adequately tested in people with progressive MS. "This Alliance funding will enable us to test this cost-effective, noninvasive intervention in persons with progressive MS," said Dr. Chiaravalloti. "We anticipate that the results may have a significant impact on addressing the troubling symptom of cognitive dysfunction and improving quality of life for people with progressive MS."


About the Alliance

The International Progressive MS Alliance is an unprecedented international initiative that is connecting resources and experts around the world to find answers and develop solutions to end progressive MS. The goal of the Alliance is to speed the development of new treatments for progressive MS by funding the best research, wherever it exists. The Alliance is led with management from MS Societies in the United States, Canada, Italy, Australia and the United Kingdom, and the MS International Federation, and expanding financial and resource support from these and other organizations, including the MS Societies of Denmark and Spain. Learn more at

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, NJ Commission of Brain Injury Research, Consortium of MS Centers, Biogen Idec, Hearst Foundation, and Kessler Foundation. Under the leadership of John DeLuca, PhD, senior VP for Research & Training, and Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, director of Neuropsychology & Neuroscience Research, scientists have made important contributions to the knowledge of cognitive decline in MS. Clinical studies span new learning, memory, executive function, attention and processing speed, emotional processing, employment and cognitive fatigue. Research tools include innovative applications of neuroimaging, iPADs, and virtual reality. Among recent findings are the benefits of cognitive reserve and aerobic exercise; correlation between cognitive performance and outdoor temperatures; efficacy of short-term cognitive rehabilitation using modified story technique; factors related to risk for unemployment, and the correlation between memory improvement and cerebral activation on fMRI. Foundation research scientists have faculty appointments at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. The opening of the Rocco Ortenzio Neuroimaging Center at Kessler Foundation has greatly expanded the Foundation's capability for neuroscience research in MS and other neurological conditions.

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

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Carolann Murphy

Lauren Scrivo
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