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This Side of Hope

By Haley Titus
May 30, 2018

My mom has lived with MS since her 20s. She was diagnosed before I was born, so MS has always been something that is a “normal” part of my life.

Through the years, MS has thrown her some curveballs, but my mom has always found a way to adapt. She’d put on a smile and learn a new way of doing something she loved and wasn’t willing to give up. She is strong and resilient, and this has impacted me in the most extraordinary way.

During my childhood and young adulthood, my mom was involved in many clinical trials. I’ve always been interested in the science behind MS, so I decided to go into medicine and work on drug discovery. I performed research through my undergraduate, master’s program and doctoral program.

I feel obligated to serve because I have the privilege of being able to. To take pride and ownership in anything, you must feel as though you have significantly and consistently contributed. My personal and professional life goal is to cure MS, and research is bringing me closer to bringing a better quality of life to MS patients like my mother.

Mom-I-80-s.jpg Science, just like any technical field, can seem like a foreign language. But there is just one thing that you need to know about my work and the work of thousands of other MS researchers: we are working towards a world free of MS. A world where a newly diagnosed patient can show up to a neurologist after an MS diagnosis and hear: “Don’t worry, we have a medicine for that.”

I have hope that this will be possible one day. As the daughter of someone living with MS, who was diagnosed during a time where it was process of elimination in the 1980s, and clinical trials/alternative medicine were the only options for therapy, the current state of disease-modifying therapies has vastly improved. We are very lucky to currently have 16 disease-modifying therapies, and for the first time, a treatment for progressive MS. We are on the brink of being able to selectively target the small part of the immune system that goes awry in MS and promote repair of the brain. In short, it means patients could stop disease progression, and regain lost motor and sensory function.

As an MS researcher, I can see firsthand the breakthroughs we’re making each and every day to better understand the causes of MS, find new treatments and ultimately, cure MS. My mom is my inspiration for this work, but I know I’m a part of something bigger. A movement that won’t stop until we end MS.

Haley Titus

Haley Titus, PhD, is a Society post-doctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Stephen D. Miller at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, focusing on selective immune regulation and myelin repair. She received her bachelor’s from Miami University with a minor in neuroscience in 2007, her master’s in anatomy from Wright State University, Boonshoft School of Medicine in 2009, and her PhD in neuroscience from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 2015. She has a strong background in neuroscience, specifically in neurodegeneration and repair through her work on peripheral nerve injury, neuro-oncology, and neuroimmunology. Her personal and professional life goal is to cure MS, as her mother has secondary progressive MS. She is an active philanthropist in her local community and is heavily involved as a board member in her local Society office.

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