HOUSTON – (March 12, 2014) – Country music star Clay Walker and neurologist Jerry Wolinsky, M.D., are moderating a free public forum on the latest advances in multiple sclerosis at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 5, at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).
It is open the public and space is limited. For additional information and to pre-register online, visit https://med.uth.edu/nrc/2014-public-forum-registration-page/ Sponsored by the UTHealth Neuroscience Research Center, the forum will be in the UTHealth Cooley University Life Center, 7440 Cambridge Street.
Walker, a Beaumont native, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1996 at the age of 26. With the help of Wolinsky, who is on the faculty of the UTHealth Medical School and medical staff of Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, Walker was able to get his multiple sclerosis under control.
Not missing a beat since his diagnosis, Walker’s successful management of the disease stems from a healthy diet, exercise, medication and staying current with his neurologist.
“Almost everyone knows someone with multiple sclerosis,” said Wolinsky, holder of the Bartels Family and Opal C. Rankin Professorships in Neurology and interim chair of the Department of Neurology at the UTHealth Medical School. “The good news is that there are more medications available today to treat this condition than just a few years ago.”
Wolinsky directs the Multiple Sclerosis Research Group at UTHealth, which is working on ways to match patients and medications with greater precision.
Multiple sclerosis damages the central nervous system, which is comprised of optic nerves, the spinal cord and brain. It does that by attacking the protective tissue called myelin. Much like an electrical cord stripped of its covering, the damage to the nerve can short-circuit the transmission of nerve signals.
Roughly 400,000 people in the United States have multiple sclerosis.
When Walker was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, there were only two classes of medications, Wolinsky said. Happily today, doctors can select from among seven distinct classes of drugs.
Walker is doing his part in the fight against multiple sclerosis by raising public awareness of the disease and funds for research through a not-for-profit organization he started in 2003 named Band Against MS.
The forum is the 19th sponsored by the UTHealth Neuroscience Research Center in conjunction with Brain Awareness Week, a global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research. “The mission of the Neuroscience Research Center is to further the understanding of the mechanisms of brain disease,” said John “Jack” Byrne, Ph.D., director of Neuroscience Research Center, chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy and holder of the June and Virgil Waggoner Chair at the UTHealth Medical School. “The research in the center will lead to better treatments if not cures.”
Byrne added, “Multiple sclerosis is a devastating neurological condition that is not fully understood.”
The panel is comprised of the following members of the UTHealth Department of Neurology: Nneka Ifejika, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor; John A. Lincoln, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor; John W. Lindsey, M.D., professor; and Flavia Nelson, M.D., associate professor. All are affiliated with the UTHealth Multiple Sclerosis Research Group and the Mischer Neuroscience Institute at Memorial Hermann.
Wolinsky and Byrne are on the faculty of The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston. Wolinsky is co-director of the Mischer Neuroscience Institute.
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