Multiple Sclerosis (MS) affects an estimated 18,000 Australians, but the disease is still a puzzle to scientists.
The Macquarie Group Foundation, together with the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) will today announce a three year Macquarie Group Foundation PhD Scholarship which will enable a young Hunter researcher to explore the role that genes play in the development of MS.
The HMRI Macquarie Group Foundation PhD Student in Information Based Medicine has been awarded to Mathew Cox from the University of Newcastle who is part of Dr Jeannette Lechner-Scott's MS research group at John Hunter Hospital.
"There are a lot of questions about MS but we do know that genes play a significant role," said Mr Cox.
He will examine 180 DNA samples provided by people with MS who live in the Hunter and throughout northern NSW and will then compare the results to samples from people without MS.
"By examining how the genes in our cells are expressed in MS patients compared to people without MS, we aim to determine differences in gene expression which may be involved in the development in MS.
"The identification of genes involved in the development of MS may lead to a better understanding the disease, help identify risk factors, and improve diagnosis and treatments."
Head of the Macquarie Group Foundation, Julie White, said: "The Macquarie Group Foundation has supported health research in Australia for more than 25 years. We are thrilled to be providing Mathew with a scholarship that will allow him and the Hunter Medical Research Institute to conduct pioneering scientific work in this important disease category."
HMRI is a partnership between Hunter New England Health, the University of Newcastle and the community.
Media opportunity - Monday 8th September 2008
Time: 9.45am for a 10am start
Where: Meet at the information desk in the foyer of John Hunter Hospital
Vision opportunities: Mathew Cox working in the laboratory; colourful images of gene expressions; Mathew Cox with Vicki Woods and Macquarie Group Foundation representatives.
Interview opportunities: Mathew Cox (HMRI Macquarie Group Foundation PhD Researcher in Information Based Medicine), Vicki Woods (a hotelier, Maitland Councillor and MS Society ambassador who lives with multiple sclerosis) and Julie White (Macquarie Group Foundation).