University of Manitoba Neurologist and Researcher Awarded Barancik Prize for Innovation in MS Research

Feb. 1, 2023 – Dr. Ruth Ann Marrie, MD, PhD, a neurologist and researcher at the University of Manitoba and a member of MS Canada's Medical Advisory Committee, has been awarded the 2023 Barancik Prize for Innovation in MS Research. This international award is presented by the National MS Society (U.S) to recognize exceptional innovation and originality in multiple sclerosis (MS) research, with emphasis on impact and potential of the research to lead to pathways for MS treatment and a cure. Dr. Marrie has been honoured for her landmark discoveries that further our understanding of how and when MS evolves, paving the way to more personalized medicine to stop and even prevent MS.

The 2023 Barancik Prize will be awarded at the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) Forum on Feb. 24, 2023, taking place in San Diego, CA, where Dr. Marrie will also deliver the Prize lecture.

Dr. Marrie is a Professor of Internal Medicine at the Max Rady College of Medicine, University of Manitoba, where she holds the Waugh Family Chair in Multiple Sclerosis. She is also a professor in the department of Community Health Sciences, and an Adjunct Scientist at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy at the University of Manitoba.

In her research, Dr. Marrie takes a holistic approach to understand how MS affects individuals in the context of their unique lifetime experiences and exposures. She focuses on factors that influence the risk of developing MS, and factors that influence the outcomes of MS, including co-existing or comorbid health conditions (other disorders along with MS), adverse childhood experiences, social circumstances, and health behaviours. Understanding how different factors impact the onset and evolution of MS may offer new avenues for personalized approaches to stopping MS and for finding ways to prevent it.

Before Dr. Marrie’s research, the impact of comorbidities in MS had not been meaningfully explored. In 2010, she published the first report suggesting that comorbidities such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and high cholesterol, could increase disability and its progression in people with MS. Her team has since shown that various comorbidities affect all aspects of MS including time to diagnosis, severity of disability at diagnosis, the use of health care, relapse rates, and mortality.

One of Dr. Marrie’s many accomplishments in MS research includes the publication of a landmark paper in 2012 which showed that people with MS increased their use of healthcare (doctor visits) during the five years before their first symptoms of MS occurred. This additional work by her team led to the recognition that MS has a “prodrome,” an early phase of unspecific symptoms indicating a high risk for future diagnosis of MS.

Dr. Marrie is also a coauthor of the Pathways to MS Cures Roadmap that outlines the most promising research to stop MS, restore function, and end MS by prevention. She is the past Chair of the International Advisory Committee on Clinical Trials in MS and former Chair of the Medical Advisory Committee for MS Canada. Dr. Marrie has been named a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, and is a recipient of the Women’s Executive Network’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada Award and the Canadian Society for Clinical Investigation Distinguished Scientist Award.

MS Canada acknowledges the National MS Society (U.S.) for authoring the original version of this press release. Learn more about the Barancik Prize and Dr. Marrie’s recognition.

About multiple sclerosis and MS Canada (formerly the MS Society of Canada)

In January 2023, the MS Society of Canada amalgamated with the MS Scientific Research Foundation, resulting in a new organizational name – MS Canada. MS Canada will continue to fulfill the mission of the MS Society of Canada and the MS Scientific Research Foundation, building upon our 75-year history of supporting the MS community. The MS Canada name will slowly be introduced into our operations throughout 2023.

Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis (MS) in the world. On average, 12 Canadians are diagnosed every day. MS is a chronic autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord). It is considered an episodic disability meaning that the severity and duration of illness and disability can vary and are often followed by periods of wellness. It can also be progressive. Most people are diagnosed with MS between the ages of 20 and 49 and the unpredictable effects of the disease will last for the rest of their lives. MS Canada provides information, support and advocacy to people affected by MS, and funds research to find the cause and cure for the disease, bringing us closer to a world free of MS.