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Kessler Foundation scientist receives National MS Society grant for predictors of memory decline

West Orange, NJ. March 27, 2013. The National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society awarded Victoria Leavitt, PhD, a $619,618 grant to study predictors of memory decline in MS. Dr. Leavitt, a scientist in Neuropsychology and Neuroscience Research at Kessler Foundation, will use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to evaluate a brain marker with predictive value for memory decline. This novel five-year study is titled "Resting State Functional Connectivity as a Predictor of Memory Decline in Multiple Sclerosis." (NMSS grant #389)

Memory impairment is a problem for about 50% of all persons with MS, leading to difficulty maintaining employment, as well as problems managing everyday life functions. Memory impairment is also associated with fatigue, depression, and stress among people with MS.

"Finding the way to predict memory decline is an essential first step towards eventually finding the way to prevent memory decline in persons with MS." said John DeLuca, PhD, VP of Research & Training. "At present, clinicians have no tool for identifying patients at risk. The goal of this study is to evaluate a brain marker that will provide a way to identify which patients may benefit from early behavioral and pharmacological interventions."

"We know that such interventions stand to be more effective if implemented at an early stage," explained Dr. Leavitt." Our pilot data reveal a unique neural 'signature' in the brain, detectable with functional neuroimaging, which may help us identify who is at-risk for memory decline at an early point in disease progression. As such, this 'signature' could be used as a marker for memory decline. Most importantly, this marker is easily and non-invasively obtained in the course of standard brain scans that most people with MS have regularly."

During this five-year study, patients with MS will undergo baseline fMRI and memory evaluation, and followup three years later to assess the predictive value of the brain marker.


Contact: Carolann Murphy
Kessler Foundation

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