Establishing the Kathleen C. Moore Research Fund for Hope
Dell Medical School receives $1 million gift to support MS-focused research and inform patient care
Written by: Ashley Lawrence
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that impacts the central nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. In MS, the body’s immune system has an abnormal response to the central nervous system. This causes inflammation and damage to myelin, a fatty material that protects your nerves, which can result in communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body.
MS affects more than 2.8 million people globally, and patients diagnosed with MS often experience a wide range of debilitating symptoms, including vision loss, fatigue, loss of motor function, cognitive dysfunction, ongoing tissue inflammation and pain. While a range of available treatment options may decrease the risk of MS worsening over time and can help MS patients manage their symptoms, there is currently no cure for the disease.
Learn more about multiple sclerosis.
<br>MS changes with age, increasing the complexity of care for older patients, who are not only at higher risk of progression of the disease, but also more susceptible to complications from immunosuppressive therapies. Despite these unique challenges faced by older patients, relatively little research focuses on people with MS over the age of 50. Léorah Freeman MD, PhD, a neurologist in UT Health Austin’s Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology Center within the Mulva Clinic for the Neurosciences, is working to change that.
The Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology Center diagnoses, treats, and manages immune-mediated neurologic diseases (diseases in which the body’s immune system attacks the central nervous system). The Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology Center care team includes neurologists, advanced practice providers, social workers, registered dietitians, nurses, and more who are committed to working with patients and their families to best understand and effectively manage their chronic neurologic illness with the ultimate goal of optimizing function, health, and wellness.
Dr. Freeman, who also serves as the Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Imaging and Outcomes Research Laboratory at the Dell Medial School, has been gathering data to identify predictive biomarkers of disease progression and response to therapies in patients over the age of 50. Her goal is to establish best practices for the management of MS in older adults, allowing her to provide care that is tailored specifically to the needs of older patients. To better understand these needs, Dr. Freeman will hold focus groups with patients to discuss how they would like their care structured and delivered.
“At the same time,” explains Dr. Freeman, “our goal is to answer the research questions that matter most to our patients and to provide meaningful education to help them on their journey with MS.” Dr. Freeman also plans to launch research projects that investigate what drives MS progression and disability in older adults and explore the risks associated with multiple medications prescribed to older patients with MS.
Dr. Freeman’s research-driven approach to MS care resonated with Greg Moore, an alumnus of the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. Together, he and his late wife, Kathy Moore, established the Kathleen C. Moore Foundation, which funds research and resources to fight, cure, and eliminate MS. Kathy, a UT psychology alumna, was diagnosed with MS at age 33 and lived with the disease for nearly 20 years before reaching the secondary progressive stage in 2010. Kathy passed away as a result of MS 9 years later.
Today, Kathy’s family honors her legacy through the work of the foundation. This past September, the foundation made a $1 million gift to the Dell Medical School to establish the Kathleen C. Moore Research Fund for Hope in memory of Kathy. Under Dr. Freeman’s direction, the fund will support MS-focused research and programming.
“This kind of support, with a commitment to research and clinical care, is helping us to better understand MS, which in turn supports our ability to provide more comprehensive care,” shares UT Health Austin neurologist David Paydarfar, MD, who serves as both the Director of the Mulva Clinic for the Neurosciences and the Chair for the Dell Medial School Department of Neurology. “The Kathleen C. Moore Research Fund for Hope will transform the lives of patients and families affected by MS, and it is an incredible, enduring tribute to Kathy.”
For Greg, the gift was a way to reconnect with his alma mater and support a cause that profoundly shaped his life. “Dr. Freeman’s work fits perfectly into the foundation’s mission,” says Greg, whose vision is to help people with MS lead more independent and fulfilled lives and to support world-class MS care for patients in Austin. “[The fund will] shed light on how MS changes with age and help us understand the unmet needs of older adults with MS—a population that has been largely underrepresented in research to date.”
To learn more about the Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology Center, please call 1-833-UT-CARES (1-833-882-2737) or visit here.
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