Up Front

Innovative Research, Important Events, and Inspiring Programs

Photo of Gina Ross Murdoch
Gina Ross Murdoch

By Gina Ross Murdoch
MSAA President and CEO

In many of our “Up Front” columns, I talk about the specific details of our strategic planning – and the importance of implementing dynamic programs that follow these crucial directives. One of our newer initiatives is a perfect example of how our strategic plan guides us in developing programs aimed at Improving Lives Today for the entire MS community. Titled the “Multiple Sclerosis Implementation Network™” (MSIN™), this practice-based research network (PBRN) is a collaboration between MSAA and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.

Independent MSIN investigators will be conducting and interpreting the vital research for this initiative, which is designed to serve as a model for evidence-based care for individuals with MS. Through MSIN, participating healthcare professionals will share data and experiences, while also giving people with MS a prominent voice in evaluating the many options and treatment plans. Please see “Program Notes” for more information on this urgently needed research.

In other news, one of our most exciting fundraisers is fast approaching. On Wednesday, May 15th, we will be holding our 10th Improving Lives Benefit at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. This year’s event will not only host attendees at the venue, but will also be available virtually through a livestream for everyone to attend from the comfort of one’s home.

At our Improving Lives Benefit each year, we proudly recognize two honorees who have made a significant impact on the MS community. This year, we are thrilled to recognize our Mission Honoree, Dr. Barry Hendin, MSAA’s Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Hendin is a highly accomplished neurologist who specializes in MS and plays an important role for our organization – guiding us on several vital program initiatives as well as reviewing all medical information that ultimately is provided to individuals with MS and their families.

In addition to our Mission Honoree, we will also be recognizing our Corporate Honoree, Antidote Technologies. This innovative, digital patient engagement company, provides online access to clinical trial information on a wide range of research in a user-friendly format. We greatly value our partnership with Antidote Technologies and applaud the contribution they have made to the MS community.

Anyone who has attended our Improving Lives Benefit in recent years will surely remember our enthusiastic and dynamic host, Tyler Campbell! We are excited to announce that Tyler, an MS advocate and motivational speaker, will once again be hosting this year’s event. Whether attending in-person or virtually, Tyler’s incredibly upbeat personality and life-changing inspirational messages will be a highlight of the evening for everyone to enjoy. For more information on our Improving Lives Benefit, please see our “Thoughts About Giving” column.

I am honored to have participated in January with members of Team MSAA once again for the Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend Presented by State Farm and the Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend. Our participation in these events helps to raise vital funds for MSAA’s free programs and direct services. The highlight of this experience for me was, of course, spending time with members of the MS community and hearing their inspirational messages.

I am also very pleased to announce that this year’s MS Awareness Month, with the theme of “Improving Lives Through Supportive Connections,” was successful in providing much-needed resources and information to the MS community. If you missed any of the MS Awareness Month programs, you may access them at mymsaa.org/awarenessmonth.

Also in March, we launched our 2024-2025 Art Showcase on MSAA’s website. This online art gallery features a vast collection of inspiring works of art created solely by individuals living with MS. For more information and to view this newest art collection, please visit mymsaa.org/artshowcase2024.

As a final note in this edition of “Up Front,” I would like to highlight the importance of this issue’s cover story, “A Closer Look at Diet and MS,” a follow-up to MSAA’s previous cover story, “The Importance of Diet and Nutrition in MS.” This edition’s cover story takes a more in-depth look at the components of popular diets and provides important details on studies that measure the impact of certain diets on MS. I hope our readers will find this information to be helpful.

Gina Ross Murdoch is a seasoned executive in non-profit management. Her career includes leadership positions with chapters of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as well as the American Diabetes Association. Earlier, she spent 14 years overseeing development activities at a large chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, leading explosive growth initiatives and ground-breaking strategic projects. An active member of the community, Ms. Murdoch has held several town positions and volunteers for her college alma mater, Drew University.