Caroline Helwick

May 18, 2017

NEW ORLEANS — The Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) annual meetings always aim to offer a multidisciplinary educational experience for attendees, and the 2017 meeting promises to exceed this commitment, organizers say.

"The overarching theme is the team approach to MS," CMSC's Chief Executive Officer, June Halper, MSN, APN-C, MSCN, told Medscape Medical News. "As always, this meeting is a conglomeration of the perspectives of all members of the MS team — scientists, clinicians, nurses, academicians, pharmacists — so it meets a potpourri of needs."

The Consortium, celebrating its 31st anniversary, has more than 200 member centers in the United States and Canada, representing 10,000 healthcare professionals who provide care for more than 200,000 individuals with MS and their families.

The importance of the multidisciplinary effort will be evident from the opening session on May 24, when Aaron L. Boster, MD, a neuroimmunologist at Ohio Health, kicks off the meeting with the John F. Kurtzke Memorial Lecture, "MS Comprehensive Care: A Team Sport."

Gary Cutter, MD, president of the CMSC Board, echoed Halper. "We are all about multidisciplinary care and teamwork, but this is one setting that is not a society meeting, or a conference of neurologists, nurses, or biostatisticians. It's for all these. CMSC 2017 really will afford attendees a glimpse into multiple disciplines, problems, and solutions," he said.

The meeting offers "tracks" for scientists, neurologists, nurses, mental health providers, rehabilitation specialists, young investigators, and others, as part of its "something for everyone" commitment, they said.

Noting that this year's conference takes place in the culinary mecca of New Orleans, Dr Cutter described the venue as "a place to feed your mind, as well as your appetite."

Lectures of Special Interest

Halper highlighted the Friday symposium, "Function of Myeloid Cells in CNS Inflammation with a Focus on Microglia Cells and CNS-invading Macrophages During MS," which will be moderated by Ari Waisman, PhD, director of the Institute for Molecular Medicine at the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany. Dr Waisman was recently awarded Europe's prestigious Sobek Prize for his groundbreaking research in MS.

"It is such an honor to have Dr Waisman speak this year," she said. Leaders in MS care and research will deliver several other important lectures, she added, "and attendees will be immersed in the latest care strategies and research findings that lead to optimal outcomes for patients."

Named lectures include "New McDonald Criteria," "How Research on Pediatric MS Can Inform Thoughts on MS Pathogenesis," and "Aggressive Treatment for MS: Is It Right for Most, Some, or No Patients?" 

Halper also highlighted a talk by Amy Lovett-Racke, MD, on micro-RNAs as potential risk factors for MS, among other "cutting edge" presentations as part of Friday's Whitaker Track.

Informational and networking dinners will focus on topics in everyday practice, clinical courses will offer practice pearls, and platform presentations and posters will showcase the latest research.  

The breadth of the 2017 CMSC Annual Meeting is a result of feedback from past attendees, according to Halper. "Our program has gotten better each year because we ask for input from attendees. Our planning committee takes our members' ideas very seriously," she said.

"Many courses this year have come from their suggestions — even our needs assessment and gaps in knowledge. The difference between our meeting and others in the field, where leadership decides on the curriculum, is that the CMSC program bubbles up from our membership," she added. "It makes for a major difference in our meeting."

Host of Topics

Sessions span a broad range of topics, from the hot topics of immunology (from pathogenesis to treatment) and inflammation, to practical sessions such as case-based approaches, to management.

Among hundreds of sessions are those on updates to MRI guidelines, new clinical trials in pediatric MS, use of mobile apps to manage symptoms, new concepts in pathogenesis and mechanisms of repair, environmental exposure in pathogenesis, and much more. 

Sessions devoted to primary progressive MS, for which ocrelizumab was recently approved, will be attractive to clinicians, and "Debates Over Controversies in MS" will give attendees food for thought.

"A focus on the CMSC is on the work force of the future," Dr Cutter noted. To this end, he said, "We have solid programs designed for young clinicians, young faculty members, and budding young researchers." 

The CMSC Board, in fact, includes career newcomers as well as veterans, and there is a special interest group for younger members. "Our Board is responsive to the interest of our younger members," he commented.

Halper added, "There is a level playing field. In CMSC, a resident in neurology is given as much credence as someone who's been in the field for 40 years."

"Our organization tries to include anyone who is touching the patient and affecting MS care," she said.

Ms Halper and Dr Cutter have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.  

Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) 2017 Annual Meeting. May 24–27, 2017.

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