About Research > Targeted Initiatives
What are Targeted Initiatives? New Promise 2010 Campaign Launched
The Society’s world-renowned research screening process has been successfully funding high potential research projects since 1946. The process invites investigators the world over to identify viable ideas, create grant proposals and submit such proposals to the Society for consideration. Projects are scrutinized by panels of peer reviewers composed of MS research specialists who volunteer to carefully evaluate each submission. These panels determine which proposals are the most meritorious and relevant and they recommend such proposals for funding by the National MS Society.
This “investigator-initiated” process has, over the years, supported MS research in all relevant areas of study (immunology, virology, genetics, etc.) and has significantly advanced our understanding of MS and its treatments. Following this model, the Society has provided over $400 million of support for outstanding research to MS investigators worldwide.
By the late 1990’s the Society was in a position to fully fund all of the meritorious research that was approved by this rigorous peer-review process. In 1998 the Society’s National Board of Directors established an additional strategy enabling the Society to fund special initiatives.
Targeted initiatives complement our traditional investigator-initiated approach: the Society and its own MS specialists are the “initiators” who identify highly promising and potentially expensive areas in MS research, programs and care that could dramatically impact future disease management and lead us to a cure.
In 2000 the Society launched its first Research Challenge of Champions campaign, designed to raise at least $20 million over five years for study in four such targeted areas: gender studies, genetic studies, the Sonya Slifka Longitudinal Multiple Sclerosis Study, and the MS Lesion Project an international collaborative study of MS lesions
With the successful completion of the first targeted research campaign, gender and genetic studies have attracted sufficient interest from the research field to be, in essence, “de-targeted” (see “Success Stories,” below). The Society’s senior scientific advisors determined that the length and complexity of the Sonya Slifka Longitudinal Multiple Sclerosis Study and the MS Lesion Project required both to remain targeted projects for the next campaign cycle.
The success of the Research Challenge has set the stage for an exciting new campaign, the Promise 2010, and new targeted initiatives, such as nervous system repair and protection. Information on our new initiatives and progress in the former initiatives are below.
For the Promise 2010 campaign, the Society has made a promise to Society members that it will raise $30 million during the next five years to support these vital, underexplored areas.
Targeting specific areas for attention has already proved to be successful: In two areas of research originally targeted in 1998, Society advisors have concluded that as a consequence of this program, these topics are no longer under-explored, but are now self-sustaining research topics. Our interest in these fields of MS research continues, and future investigations will be supported in our fully competitive, investigator-initiated research programs.
Here are summaries of the progress achieved in gender differences in MS, and MS genetics while these areas were targeted by the National MS Society: