The diagnosis of multiple system atrophy (MSA) is often very difficult. As there is no reliable clinical test, clinicians are many times hesitant to make the diagnosis and wait to see how rapidly the symptoms progress. This can prevent patients from receiving treatment, especially in the early stages of the disease.
The MSA Coalition is a patient support group dedicated to raising awareness and providing education on MSA. At the heart of the Coalition’s mission is grants program, stimulating research into this rare fatal neurodegenerative disease.
Each year the American Autonomic Society selects the best research in MSA and the Coalition supports travel fellowship awards allowing investigators to present their work at the annual scientific meeting. In recent years, competition for the MSA Travel Fellowship awards has become more intense, and past winners include leaders in the field. Priority is given to work that has an impact on patient’s lives.
This year, the MSA Coalition’s Don Summers memorial MSA Travel award was given to Dr. Alberto Palma. Dr. Palma’s research abstract described how MSA can be distinguished from other similar looking disorders in the clinic using a biomarker detected in blood samples taken lying and standing.
Dr. Palma is a graduate of the accredited autonomic disorders fellowship program at the Center. He is a trained neurologist with expertize in both sleep and autonomic function. He is now Assistant Professor in NYU’s Neurology Department and Assistant Director of the Dysautonomia Research Laboratory. His research work is sponsored by the Dysautonomia Foundation, the MSA Coalition and the National Institutes of Health.