Multiple Sclerosis Research

Interested in volunteering for a MS Study? View current research studies here.

Multiple Sclerosis Research at Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center engages in research to improve clinical outcomes and the quality of life for people with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Research activities include clinical trials that yield cutting-edge therapies, such as investigational MS medications, new cell therapies and new devices, to Atlanta.

We support basic and applied MS research efforts that are scientifically sound, safeguard the welfare of research participants and have the potential to advance the field of rehabilitation medicine.

The MS Rehabilitation and Wellness Research Program began in 2012 as part of the Eula C. and Andrew C. Carlos MS Rehabilitation and Wellness Program at Shepherd Center. Our research mission supports that of the MS clinical program and aims to improve the function, health, wellness and quality of life in people with MS. To that end, our MS researchers are engaged in studies of the effects of rehabilitation and exercise interventions for people with MS (figure below), as well as vocation and quality of life. A concerted effort is also made to disseminate research findings (knowledge translation) to people with MS, as well as MS healthcare providers, caregivers and payers to optimize function and quality of life for people living with MS.

Shepherd Center’s research program is unique in that it is truly an integration of clinical and research endeavors. This integrated team, led by Deborah Backus, PT, Ph.D., FACRM, is comprised of physical and occupational therapists, speech therapists, exercise specialists, physicians and collaborators from various related fields and institutions, who endeavor to answer meaningful questions that can be translated into clinical practice.

Our research core:

Deborah Backus, PT, PhD, FACRM           
Director of MS Research
Office contact: 404-350-7599
Email: Deborah_Backus@Shepherd.org

Jonathan Melbourn, PT 
MS Research Fellow

Laura Hawkins, BS                                           
Exercise Specialist/Research Assistant

Marina Moldavskiy, BS                                 
Exercise Specialist/Research Coordinator

Our Clinical Partners at Shepherd Center

Ben Thrower, M.D.                                         Medical Director, MS Institute, Physician PI

Guy Buckle, M.D., MPH                                 Director, Imaging Research, Physician PI

Sherrill Loring, M.D.                                       Physician PI

Anna Berry, PT, DPT                                     MS Program Manager

Blake Burdett, BS                                           Exercise Specialist

Anneke Bender, MPT                                     Physical Therapist Evaluator

Our Collaborators:

  • Abiodun Akinwuntan, Ph.D., MPH, and Hannes Devos, Ph.D., Georgia Regents University, Georgia, USA
  • Ilse Baert, Ph.D., and Peter Feys, Ph.D., Universiteit Hasselt, Biomedical Research Institute, Belgium
  • James Krause, Ph.D., Medical University of South Carolina, South Carolina, USA
  • Kevin McCully, Ph.D., University of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia, USA
  • Laura Rice, Ph.D., MPT, ATP and Jacob Sosnoff, Ph.D., University of Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA
  • Manning Sabatier, Ph.D., Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Clinical Trials in MS

Our MS research activities also include clinical trials related to cutting-edge therapies such as investigational medications, new cell therapies and new devices. We support basic and applied MS research efforts that are scientifically sound, safeguard the welfare of research participants and have the potential to advance the field of rehabilitation medicine.

Ismari Clesson, RN, MSCN, CCRP, director of clinical research, and her team of clinical trial nurses and coordinators oversee 12 trials related to MS.

To learn more about clinical trials at Shepherd Center, please visit shepherd.org/research/clinical-trials