Naila Makhani, MD, MPH, has been named a Harry Weaver Neuroscience Scholar by the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society, starting in July of 2022. The five-year early-career award is highly competitive and prestigious –a limited number of awards are given out by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to highly qualified newly-independent researchers. With the funding that this award provides (approximately $600,000), Dr. Makhani will continue research on Biomarkers Associated with Multiple Sclerosis in Children with Radiologically Isolated Syndrome (RIS).
Last November, Dr. Makhani told MDedge that RIS was first described in adults in 2009 but has since been increasingly recognized and diagnosed in children. She explained, “RIS is diagnosed after magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain that the patient has sought for reasons other than suspected multiple sclerosis-- for instance, for evaluation of head trauma or headache. However, unexpectedly, or incidentally, the patient’s MRI shows the typical findings that we see in multiple sclerosis, even in the absence of any typical clinical symptoms.” Dr. Makhani’s prior work has identified children with RIS as a high-risk group for the later development of multiple sclerosis.
In a recent manuscript in PubMed, “Treatment Considerations in the Radiologically Isolated Syndrome”, Dr. Makhani explained that people with RIS lack clinical neurological symptoms but are at risk for the subsequent development of a first clinical neurological event consistent with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. RIS has so far been considered a rare disease but without more research, it’s hard to be certain. Dr. Makhani’s work will continue to identify markers that identify those children at greatest risk for multiple sclerosis. This work is important as it may ultimately lead to prevention strategies in children at highest risk of multiple sclerosis, before they ever develop any clinical symptoms or disability.
This award is named for Dr. Harry Weaver, a preeminent scholar, who served as the director of research for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society from 1966-1977 and who encouraged young investigators to pursue research into multiple sclerosis.
To learn more about the Harry Weaver Scholar Award, visit the National MS Society’s website.