Organizations Dedicated to Support Multiple Sclerosis Research
In the United States alone, there are several organizations dedicated to multiple sclerosis services and support, multiple sclerosis research, professional support and training, and multiple sclerosis advocacy and awareness. Many more organizations exist worldwide. This post is the beginning of a series which will feature prominent, as well as lesser known, organizations worldwide who seek to make life better for those of us living with MS and who are working tirelessly towards that elusive cure.
Let’s start the review at home with the first ever established MS organization. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) has an inspiring history - arising from a classified advertisement placed in The New York Times in 1945 by one individual looking for information for her brother who had just been diagnosed with MS. That extraordinary individual was Sylvia Lawry (1915-2001).
When her brother Bernard was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 1945, Sylvia Lawry searched for a successful therapy which led to the infamous classified ad in The New York Times asking that ‘anyone recovered from it [MS] please communicate with patient.’ She received around 50 replies to this advertisement - not from patients with remedies, but from those seeking a remedy or cure themselves.
Immediately Sylvia went to work, rallying more than 20 famous scientists to her cause and founding the world’s first ever MS organization in 1946 - the Association for Advancement of Research in Multiple Sclerosis. Sylvia recognized that people living with MS also needed sound information and support services in addition to increased research, so the Association evolved the following year into the US National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) which has become a model for national societies worldwide.
Twenty years later as National MS Society funds were increasingly being allocated to societies in other countries, Sylvia Lawry decided it was time to make her work truly international. In 1967, she founded the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Societies which was recently renamed the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF) with headquarters in London.
As the umbrella organization, the MSIF coordinates the network of 42 national MS societies and the international MS research community. The MSIF is a driving force behind worldwide research not only to find effective and financially feasible therapies but also, in the final analysis, a cure for the disease. In 2001, as part of these efforts, the Federation founded the Sylvia Lawry Centre for Multiple Sclerosis Research in Munich.
The MSIF supports the creation and further development of new and existing MS societies in order to safeguard the care of patients on a worldwide basis. The organization promotes the worldwide exchange of all information relevant to MS. And not least, the MSIF also understands its role as that of an advocate for sufferers, in order to ensure that every patient suffering from MS receives the best available therapy.
The US National Multiple Sclerosis Society continues to raise funds for research and provide support for people with MS and their families, and there are now approximately 75 National MS Societies worldwide, 42 of which are members of MSIF.
Bernard Lawry died in 1973, but his sister’s commitment to campaigning on behalf of people with MS did not falter. Sylvia Lawry served as Executive Director of NMSS until 1982 and was Secretary of MSIF until 1997. She remained involved in the international MS movement until the sudden onset of a respiratory illness in 2000. She died on 24 February 2001 at the age of 85. Today, we have Sylvia to thank for the vitality of MSIF and for MS Societies across the world.
From today's NMSS:
The National MS Society is a collective of passionate individuals who want to do something about MS now—to move together toward a world free of multiple sclerosis. MS stops people from moving. We exist to make sure it doesn't.
We help each person address the challenges of living with MS through our 50-state network of chapters. The Society helps people affected by MS by funding cutting-edge research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating professional education, and providing programs and services that help people with MS and their families move their lives forward.
* We are moving research forward by relentlessly pursuing prevention, treatment and cure.
* We are moving to reach out and respond to individuals, families and communities living with multiple sclerosis.
* We are moving politicians and legislation to champion the needs of people with MS through activism, advocacy and influence.
* We are moving to mobilize the millions of people who want to do something about MS now.
JOIN THE MOVEMENT®
Through the Society’s fifty-state network of chapters, assistance is provided to over a million people annually. Chapters encourage personal empowerment with employment counseling, family programs, volunteer opportunities, and advocacy issues.
Each National MS Society chapter also organizes a variety of events to raise funds and awareness. Call 1-800-344-4867 or access your chapter website by entering your ZIP code on the Find A Chapter page of the national website.