Genetic studies in common, complex diseases with special emphasis on Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is one of the most common neurological diseases, usually striking people between the ages of 20 and 40. My research focuses on understanding genetic epidemiological, molecular genetic and environmental factors that increase susceptibility for MS and other common complex diseases that begin in adulthood. As part of my work in the Canadian Project on Genetic Susceptibility to MS, a BC and Canada-wide database on MS has been established. This is the largest database of information on family histories of MS in the world. Using this information, we have shown that both hereditary and environmental factors do have a role in causing susceptibility to MS. Now we are focusing on identifying the genes and non-genetic factors responsible for MS. This research will help identify people at high risk of developing MS, and possibly contribute to treatments that slow down or prevent the onset of the disease. In addition, the results of this research are relevant for addressing other common adult onset diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, breast cancer and diabetes.