Veronique Miron

Professor, University of Toronto

Photo of Dr. Miron

Veronique Miron is the John David Eaton Chair in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Research at the Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science and Barlo MS Centre at St.Michael’s Hospital, and Full Professor in the Department of Immunology at The University of Toronto. Dr. Miron has undertaken research in MS for 20 years, with a focus on understanding how myelin repair is controlled and why it fails in MS. She completed her PhD at McGill University in Montreal, and an MS Canada-funded postdoctoral fellowship at the Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine. She then launched her lab at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and in 2022, relocated with her lab to Toronto.

Over the past 10 years, her team has made discoveries on the cells and molecules that are important for repair of myelin, the protective covering of nerve fibres in the nervous system, and identifying potential new targets and drugs to encourage this process. Her team discovered that immune cells that live in the central nervous system, called microglia, normally protect myelin from damage and support myelin repair. They are now working towards understanding the mechanisms that underpin these findings, to develop potential therapies to ensure myelin health in people with MS, contributing to improved quality of life.

Learn more about Dr. Miron

What is the focus of your research? How did you become interested in MS research?  

The focus of research of my lab is to understand what controls myelin health, damage, and repair. This is relevant to MS where myelin damage occurs, causing problems with movement, sensation, and intellect, and where myelin repair often fails over time. In particular, we investigate cells in the central nervous system and immune system which interact with the myelin-forming cells, called oligodendrocytes, to influence myelin health. We have shown that support cells, called microglia, are needed to protect and repair myelin.

I became interested in MS research because a family member had MS. When hearing about her struggles, and learning about how many people in Canada and worldwide are affected by MS at the prime of their lives, I was inspired to dedicate my research to finding new treatments. 
What inspires you to continue advancing research in this field?

MS is the most common cause of disability in young adults, affecting individuals at the prime of their lives. Although we have effective therapeutics to limit the immune-mediated attack on the central nervous system early on in the disease, we lack drugs that can repair the damage that has been done. As myelin repair often fails with progression of MS, there is a critical need to find new drugs that can promote myelin repair, which in turn will improve the health and quality of life of people with MS. 
How do you hope to change the lives of people living with MS through your research? 
We hope that by understanding the important cells and molecules involved in protecting and repairing myelin, we can identify new drug approaches for myelin health in MS. Our focus is on the microglia, an immune cell that lives in the central nervous system, which has important roles in protecting myelin and promoting myelin repair. However, with aging in MS, we predict that microglia lose these important roles, and that this contributes to poor myelin repair. We are working towards understanding how microglia protect and repair myelin, and how this fails with aging in MS, to inform the development of new drugs for MS in the future. We predict that this would improve the health of nerve fibres, the functioning of the central nervous system, and in turn the quality of life of people with MS. 
What do you enjoy most about your research? What are some of the challenges you face? 

What I enjoy most about my research is being able to work towards improving the lives of people with disability. Through understanding how myelin is influenced in MS, my hope is that this will lead to new effective treatments to protect and repair myelin in MS.

I also very much enjoy training and mentoring the next generation of scientists in my lab and beyond, to create a supportive and enriching environment in which researchers and their science can thrive – this is how science and medicine moves forward. Of course, I face challenges in my job – acquiring funds to carry out research, troubleshooting difficult experiments, managing a growing team of researchers, and managing my time to carry out all of my responsibilities. However, the motivation to make a difference in the lives of people with MS, and the support of my enthusiastic and brilliant lab members, helps me get through the challenging times. 
How important is the support from MS Canada in your research? 

Support from MS Canada is absolutely critical for our research. This funding is needed to make new discoveries, by supporting trainee salaries, experimental costs, and travel to conferences to receive feedback on our work. We are extremely grateful to receive support from MS Canada to pursue our work on myelin protection and repair in MS.