Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory, disabling disease of the central nervous system. Recent studies suggest that over the last 50 years a disproportional increase in incidence of MS in women has taken place. The lifetime costs of MS exceed 1.5 million € per case in the UK, and are likely to be similar in other European countries. There is no definitive cure for MS. Immunomodulatory therapies, such as interferon-β (IFN-β) and glatiramer acetate (GA), are only partially effective. Hence, there is a pressing need both for novel therapeutic targets and for approaches toward increasing the effectiveness of these existing treatments. The focus of the proposed “United Europeans for the development of PHArmacogenomics in MS” (‘UEPHA-MS’) network will be to promote and improve training opportunities in the novel areas of pharmacogenomics, biomarker research and systems biology applied to MS. The main scientific goals of this network are both to improve our knowledge of the mechanisms determining response outcome of existing immunomodulatory therapies and to identify novel therapeutic opportunities. UEPHA-MS is composed of ten internationally recognised research teams from 6 countries with an assortment of expertise in complementary disciplines. UEPHA-MS partners are among Europe’s most pro-active groups in pioneering the novel, supra-disciplinary area of integrated genomics / bioinformatics / systems biology research. The UEPHA-MS network will provide a coherent and internationally competitive platform for training of young scientists based on a series of state-of-the-art lab-based and network-wide activities. UEPHA-MS will boost employment perspectives of young researchers in Europe’s knowledge-based economy by shaping a new generation of scientists with greatly enhanced multidisciplinary aptitudes. This network will be crucial in priming young scientists for Europe’s collective effort toward improved provision of health care based on “personalized medicine”.
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