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23 May 2024

New Doctoral Training Centre to investigate MS symptom management

The King's Doctoral Training Centre has recruited three PhD students to investigate how to best manage Multiple Sclerosis (MS) symptoms without using drugs.

IoPPN students

Treatments for MS are essential to helping people live well with the condition. Drug treatments are available for some people with MS to help reduce relapses and slow down progression. Some treatments can also help with the symptoms of MS, but these can have side effects and they don’t work for everyone.

The new King’s Doctoral Training Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) has recruited three PhD students to develop and test digital health interventions for MS. These interventions will aim to treat symptoms including pain, sexual difficulties and psychological distress (for example low mood or anxiety), as people with MS can find it more difficult to access non-drug treatments for symptoms like these.

These digital health interventions will sit in a single digital platform called “My MS Digital Symptom Toolkit”. This will allow people with MS to get support for different symptoms in the same place. And make it easier for healthcare professionals to refer people to access these non-drug treatments.

The Centre is funded by MS Society and led by Professor Rona Moss-Morris and Dr Joanna Hudson at the IoPPN.

We're incredibly excited to be working in partnership with Avegen, the MS Society and people with MS on this project. Creating evidence-based digital interventions to enhance integrated care for people with challenging long term conditions like MS is core to our mission.

Professor Rona Moss-Morris, co-lead of the Doctoral Training Centre and Professor of Psychology as Applied to Medicine at King's IoPPN

When planning this Doctoral Training Centre, people with MS told us that they find it hard to access treatments for these symptoms. We hope having a digital symptom toolkit can address this need.

Dr Joanna Hudson, co-lead of the Doctoral Training Centre and Lecturer at King's IoPPN

In addition to MS Society funding, the King’s Doctoral Training Centre is being supported by Avegen, a company that provides digital health solutions. Students will also benefit from infrastructure provided by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre.

People with MS have worked with researchers to develop their plans so far. The Doctoral Training Centre will continue to put people with MS at the heart of their work with a patient and public involvement (PPI) group made up of people living with MS. This group will oversee and input into the work of the Centre. In addition, each PhD research project will have its own PPI group. These will be made up of people with MS who have lived experience of the symptom relevant to each project.

The MS Society is also launching the The Glasgow Caledonian University Doctoral Training Centre.

Dr Clare Walton, Head of Research at MS Society, said:

“To achieve our vision of a world free from the effects of MS, we need to attract and develop the best talent to work in MS research. For many years, we’ve funded PhD students to take their first steps into a career in MS research. But we recognise the need to do more to develop and keep these researchers in the field. And we’ve developed our new Doctoral Training Centres with them in mind.

"By providing funding and support for these PhD students, our Doctoral Training Centres aim to build capacity in MS symptom management research. The funding will let them explore new research ideas and build up their skills and networks. All this will maximise the chances of their research making a difference to people living with MS.”

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In this story

Rona Moss-Morris

Professor of Psychology as Applied to Medicine