Program Notes: MRI Institute Marks 10 Years of Service

By Peter Damiri
Senior Director of Programs

Photo of Annual Meeting
At the 2012 Consortium of MS Centers’ Annual Meeting, MSAA Chairman of the Board Tom Vassallo (left) and CEO Doug Franklin (right) present EMD Serono President Jim Hoyes with a commemorative award marking their 10-year commitment and support to MSAA for the MRI Institute program.

MSAA is proud to mark the 10-year anniversary of one of our most sought-after programs: the MRI Institute. Supported by EMD Serono, Inc. and Pfizer Inc since the program’s inception in 2002, the MRI Institute provides cranial MRI scans to MS patients who otherwise could not afford the test due to lack of insurance or steep coverage limits. Over the past decade, this critical program has benefited more than 7,500 individuals with MS across the country.

MRI scans play an essential role in the management of the ever-changing course of multiple sclerosis. With the valuable information provided by an MRI, physicians are able to make better treatment decisions and monitor the effectiveness of prescribed treatments, making adjustments as necessary. Unfortunately, many people have neither the necessary insurance coverage nor the financial means to acquire an MRI to evaluate the status of their illness. The MSAA MRI Institute was established to meet this important need.

“Today, the MRI is recognized as one of our most powerful tools to gauge the effectiveness of therapy and monitor the progress of the disease,” explains MSAA President and CEO Doug Franklin. “MSAA would not be able to provide this extremely valuable service without the support of our partners at EMD Serono and Pfizer. We greatly value their long-standing dedication and commitment to this program as well as other MSAA services that enable us to continue serving the MS community and make a truly positive impact on their quality of life.”

According to MSAA client Emily Johnson, the MSAA MRI Institute assisted in providing a much-needed resource in managing her MS. “As a young person with relapsing-remitting MS, my expenses associated with my MS, especially medication and medical procedures, such as an MRI, are often a burden,” states Johnson. “I was so excited to learn that the MSAA MRI Institute could possibly help me obtain a needed MRI. The assistance provided meant one less concern for me. I am truly grateful for the MSAA MRI Institute.”

To learn more about the MRI Institute
and to receive an application, please visit
our website at or call (800) 532-7667, extension 120.

Stay on Top of Your MS

With the arrival of fall, MSAA’s regional offices are preparing to launch a full year of informative public education programs designed to give you and your family the latest updates on MS therapies, effective symptom management treatments, and proactive strategies for living your best.

“The world of MS is constantly changing with new information being discussed and reported nearly every day,” explains MSAA Chief Operating Officer Robert Rapp. “It is extremely important for individuals with MS and their families to become and remain proactive rather than reactive when faced with the many challenges of this lifelong journey.”

Ranging from the latest advances on disease and symptom treatments, to new strategies on managing employment, relationships, and other life issues, MSAA’s educational programs provide an excellent opportunity to connect our clients with many of the country’s leading MS healthcare professionals. Often planned as small dinner programs, these events provide information in an easy-to-understand, conversational format that strongly encourages open dialog between clients and presenters, while allowing plenty of time for questions and answers.

“We recognize our clients have important questions and concerns they want to share with the presenters as well as discuss with their peers,” says Rapp. “For many, it represents a chance to ask questions they might not have time for during a routine doctor’s visit, or the opportunity to learn from an MS expert who practices outside their area. This lively discussion also seems to create a comfortable and trusting environment.”

MSAA’s educational programs planned for this coming year include: cognition and MS; updates on exciting emerging therapies for disease management; new advances in the treatment of bladder function, spasticity, and other symptoms; and the benefits of shared management, which encourages patients and healthcare providers to work together to achieve better health outcomes. MSAA recently launched a number of innovative tools to assist with shared management including our My MS Manager™ (a mobile phone application), My MS Resource Locator online database, and the S.E.A.R.C.H.™ initiative to assist with treatment discussions. MSAA’s regional offices are also actively planning information and outreach programs to address the underserved communities of Hispanic and African-American MS populations as well as clients in rural areas who have unmet healthcare needs.

To learn more about MSAA’s educational programs in your area, please visit our Calendar of Events at, email us at, or call (800) 532-7667.