Eric and Erika Braun are halfway to their goal of $40,000 to support Discovery MS, a non-profit research initiative focus on multiple sclerosis that is housed in the David H. Murdock Research Institute (DHMRI) at the North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) in Kannapolis. This is the second year the Brauns have sponsored a fundraiser to support Discovery MS. This year they want to challenge more people to learn about Discovery MS and support this local research effort.
Why support Discovery MS?
Eric Braun was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the fall of 2001 when he was 33 years old. By 2010, his physical health had deteriorated to the point where walking was extremely difficult, and he was forced to retire on disability. A few years later he met Simon Gregory, PhD, primary investigator for Discovery MS, at a regional event for the National MS Society, where they discussed the difficulty of raising funds for basic research vital for understanding how MS develops.
“Because basic research does not have a specific treatment goal or end product like a new drug or other potential revenue outcome, it is typically more difficult to fund through companies that are seeking to monetize new treatments,” Braun explained. “While basic research may ultimately lead to better treatments, it is typically several steps removed from commercialized treatment identification.”
Braun continued to meet with Gregory to talk about his research, and in 2017 Braun and his wife Erika decided to help raise funds for Gregory’s research with Discovery MS. Their 2017 fundraiser aimed to raise $20,000, but the Brauns ended up raising nearly $40,000.
“We hope our efforts will provide a somewhat consistent funding source in the coming years,” Braun said. “Last year we raised just under $40,000, and we hope to exceed that amount this year and continue to grow our fundraising efforts.”
Discovery MS was launched in the fall of 2016. Gregory, senior staff scientist Sabrina Cote, PhD, and other researchers and supporters involved with Discovery MS aim to improve MS diagnosis and prognosis, help people with MS live fuller, more active lives, and to gain a clearer picture of how MS develops in the first place.
“Discovery MS offers the chance to explore new avenues of MS research and the opportunity to experiment with high risk, high reward studies,” Gregory said. He is renowned for his 2007 discovery of the connection between MS and the ILR7 gene. “The Brauns are providing vital funds for sustaining research at Discovery MS, as well as laying the seed for larger donations in the future. Together, we are changing the paradigm for funding research.”