You’ve Got the Power! $5 Million Awarded to New MS Research Program
Anytime you might be tempted to ask yourself – “What can I do, I’m just one person,” you can point to the $5 million awarded for an historic MS research project within the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) that MS activists across the country helped to secure.
This is a tremendous victory for the MS movement as it is the first time that multiple sclerosis has ever received its own line item allocation under CDMRP, a program funded through the Defense Department. The new program is listed in a multi-functional funding package that Congress approved, which includes the defense and homeland security appropriation bills as well as a continuing resolution that will keep the government operating until March of next year.
The establishment of our new avenue of research funding for MS is a vivid example of the power of advocacy and the influence of a grass roots campaign. This movement took impetus in the fall of 2006 when MS activists went door to door and engaged online tools to collect more than 100,000 signatures supporting a research program for MS within the CDMRP.
Building on this impetus, Society Chapters with their MS activists and our Federal Advocacy team in Washington, DC participated in hundreds of congressional meetings on the Hill and in home states. They took our case to the media, to town hall forums and testified before Congress. They also enlisted the support of other individuals and organizations to help in this effort.
One such individual was Congressman Russ Carnahan who put the request forward when he was moved by the disturbing accounts that suggest U.S. veterans who served in the Mideast Gulf Wars have an increased risk of developing MS. He led a multi-Member letter of support for the request which garnered the signatures of 63 Members of Congress. He also co-chairs the MS Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives comprised of 116 Members.
“Funding for this research has the promise to help identify the potential link between MS and military service – such findings could help unlock keys to the disease and eventually lead us to a cure, helping people affected by MS around the entire world,” advised Congressman Carnahan.
Other allies who helped petition Congress for this new MS research funding included the American Academy of Neurology, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, United Spinal, AMVETS, the Vietnam Veterans of America, and the Disabled American Veterans.
“The inclusion of multiple sclerosis as a targeted research area under Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs is an extraordinary accomplishment,” commends Joyce Nelson, President and CEO of the Society. “The unswerving commitment of MS activists who raised their voices to promote increased investment into understanding the causes and finding improved treatments for MS made it possible.”
Those taking up the role of MS activist seized this issue from the onset along with the challenge of requesting millions of dollars for a new program during a difficult budget cycle that went with it. The victory belongs to everyone who is touched by the impact of multiple sclerosis but it’s you who’ve got the power