Multiple Sclerosis Society names Sanford-Burnham’s Dr. Barbara Ranscht as Researcher of the Year

| Written by rbruni
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On March 24, more than 70 multiple sclerosis (MS) research advocates came to Sanford-Burnham in La Jolla, Calif., to learn how our labs are making advancements in the fight against the immune-mediated disease. The advocates visited the Institute as part of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s (NMSS) MS Awareness Month.

During the visit, the MS Society’s Pacific Coast Chapter presented Barbara Ranscht, Ph.D., professor in our Development, Aging, and Regeneration Program, with an esteemed Researcher of the Year Award. The award, presented by Karen Hooper, executive vice president of the National MS Society’s Pacific South Coast Chapter, was given to commemorate Ranscht’s illustrious career and her personal commitment to finding a definitive cure for MS.

Ranscht leads a team of researchers working on ways to repair the myelin that is damaged in MS. Myelin is the fatty substance that insulates and protects the nerves. When the myelin sheath is damaged, or destroyed in MS, nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord are distorted, producing a wide variety of neurological symptoms, including difficulties walking, vision and hearing loss, slurred speech, seizures, and other debilitating nerve dysfunctions.

As part of their visit, Ranscht presented her most recent research discoveries. Immediately following the presentation, the group was invited to her lab for an informal question-and-answer session. They could then watch, up close, the scientific techniques and technologies employed.

The visitors also toured the Cell Imaging Facility, where Drs. Leslie Boyd and Yashasharee Joshi made them look through state-of-the-art microscopes and other imaging tools used to study myelin. The trip concluded with a stopover at the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics, where Anne Bang, Ph.D., director of Cell Biology, gave a presentation on how Sanford-Burnham is employing the latest in drug development technologies to accelerate basic research findings, like Ranscht’s, into new medicines that will have a tangible impact on people’s lives.

To find out how you can join a behind-the-scenes tour of Sanford-Burnham’s La Jolla campus, please contact Karolyn Baker at, or call (858)795-5239. Find information on Florida campus tours here.

Walk MS: Team Sanford-Burnham

Do you want to be part of the fight against MS?

Join Team Captain Dr. Ranscht and all of Team Sanford-Burnham at the April 25, 2015 MS walk (San Diego). Learn how you can get involved, or support Dr. Ranscht and Team Sanford-Burnham on their team's website here.

About MS

MS is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide. While the exact cause is unknown, scientists believe that the disease may be triggered by as-yet-unidentified environmental factors in a person who is genetically predisposed to respond. There is no cure for MS, but there are FDA-approved medications that modify or slow down the course of MS. Advances in understanding the defects and repairing lesions in MS are promising.

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