Multiple Sclerosis Research

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

MS Research Studies 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, such as clinical trials, bring cutting-edge therapies like investigational MS medications, new cell therapies and new devices to patients in the MS Institute at Shepherd Center in Atlanta.

We support basic and applied MS research efforts. Our researchers ensure these efforts are scientifically sound, safeguard the welfare of research participants, and aim to advance the field of rehabilitation medicine.

In 2012, the MS Rehabilitation and Wellness Research Program began as part of the Eula C. and Andrew C. Carlos MS Rehabilitation and Wellness Program at Shepherd Center. Our research mission supports 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 conduct studies to better understand the effects of rehabilitation and exercise interventions for individuals with MS (figure below). Our research also shows how interventions affect vocation and quality of life for these individuals. Additionally, we disseminate research findings (knowledge translation) to people with MS, as well as MS healthcare providers, caregivers and payers. By sharing our research and findings, we help to optimize function and quality of life for people living with MS.

Visual graphic illustrating the effects of MS research on individuals with multiple sclerosis

Our MS Research Team

Shepherd Center’s unique research program integrates clinical and research endeavors. This integrated team, led by Deborah Backus, PT, Ph.D., FACRM, consists of physical and occupational therapists, speech therapists, exercise specialists, physicians and collaborators from a variety of fields and institutions. This integrated team endeavors to answer meaningful questions and translate findings into clinical practice.

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

Louise Palmer, MA Project Manager

Rebecca Thomasson, OTR/L  CLT Occupational Therapist

Joy Williams, PT, DPT

Marina Moldavskiy, BS  Exercise Specialist/Research Coordinator

MS Research Clinical Partners Team

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

MS Research Team of 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 Research & Studies

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 clinical trials related to MS.

Learn more about MS-related clinical trials at Shepherd Center.