Outstanding Investigator Award for MS Research

Bruce D. Trapp, PhD, an expert in multiple sclerosis (MS) and myelin biology, received an R35 Outstanding Investigator Award from the National Institutes of Health. The prestigious award is designed to provide long-term support and flexibility to scientists whose work holds the most promise for significant breakthroughs.

Dr. Trapp, Chair of the Department of Neurosciences, is the first Cleveland Clinic researcher to receive the award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). He will receive approximately $7 million over the next eight years to examine the biology of MS and to seek treatments that could slow or reverse the disease.

Trapp’s 10-person lab has produced seminal work in the understanding of MS, a disease of the central nervous system in which the body’s immune system attacks myelin, the protective fatty coating that wraps around nerve fibers.

In 1998, Dr. Trapp’s team published a landmark paper in The New England Journal of Medicine revealing that the immune cells target not only the myelin sheath, but also the nerve itself. That discovery caused a paradigm shift, alerting MS researchers to examine neurodegeneration as the cause of permanent neurological disability.

With this grant support, Dr. Trapp said he will further study how myelin loss leads to brain cell dysfunction, nerve fiber death, and neurological disability, as well as how the disease process can be slowed and possibly reversed.