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Feb 2017
Trish Foundation contributes to first-ever discovery
Jun 2017
Researchers funded by the Trish Foundation making great progress
Dec 2014
2015 Funding announced
Mar 2015
Investigating new treatment options
Oct 2015
Progress in MS Research Conference
Feb 2016
2016 Round of Funding
Sep 2016
Dr Gu's Incubator Grant announced
Jan 2017
New Research Projects commencing 2017 announced

Helmut Butzkueven

 

“The ‘holy grail’ of MS research? Finding the cause, of course.”

This simple statement underpins the work of Associate Professor Helmut Butzkueven, a long-term and much valued research partner of the Trish Foundation.  

   

Originally from Germany, Associate Professor Butzkueven’s interest in neuroscience and immunology dates back to his school days. Yet it wasn’t until he moved to Australia in 1984 that the decision was taken to make it his career - studying Medicine at Melbourne University and qualifying as a neurologist in 1999. 

Associate Professor Butzkueven then went on to do a PhD in animal models of MS at the Walter and Eliza Institute.  

“We still need to translate animal work to human drugs, and to my mind this kind of research translation is one of the most important challenges for MS researchers in Australia,” he comments.  

The Trish Foundation is extremely proud to have co-funded Associate Professor Butzkueven’s first Post-Doctoral Fellowship with the NHMRC from 2006-2009. As the recipient of the inaugural Betty Cuthbert Fellowship, he established and managed the rapid expansion of an international online MS outcomes registry run out of the Royal Melbourne Hospital. This registry follows more than 16,500 MS patients worldwide, including over 2,100 Australians.   

“This registry is an invaluable resource as it is beginning to answer some very important questions regarding the long-term outcomes of MS now, as well as the usefulness of MS treatments”, Associate Professor Butzkueven explains.  

During this time, Associate Professor Butzkueven also collaborated with a network of Australian and New Zealand scientists focusing solely on genetics and MS research. “I am very proud to have helped establish a large collaborative genetics study which discovered two new MS-related genes and continues to contribute a lot to our knowledge of the genetics of MS”, he says.  

Currently, the Trish Foundation funds Associate Professor Butzkueven’s research focusing on the molecule Dab2, produced by an immune cell type called macrophages.  

Associate Professor Butzkueven explains: “Macrophages are the immune cells that probably do most of the permanent damage in MS lesions. We are testing whether Dab2 is important in brain injury in MS, using animal models. This work is incredibly exciting because, if we can learn how to reduce or switch off Dab2 levels, we might be able to reduce this damage.”  

Professor Bill Carroll, Chairman of the MS Research Australia's Research Review Board and Research Management Council confirms Dr Butzkueven's work is of the highest order. "He is one of the most outstanding clinician/scientists working in Australia. He has been able to span the wide range of research between the laboratory and the bedside".  

Although a ‘typical working day’ does not exist, Associate Professor Butzkueven spends a lot of his time project planning and managing a lab focusing solely on human MS genetics and immunology at the Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne. He also works at two MS Clinics at the Box Hill and Royal Melbourne Hospitals; commencing in 2002, these clinics now see approximately 1,500 people with MS.  

Married with two daughters aged 13 and 10, and the proud owner of a female dog, Associate Professor Butzkueven freely admits he’s ‘fifth in charge’ outside of the laboratory and is happy to let the women in his life take charge. He confesses to “battling a German’s love for cheese and pork” and loves to cook, with Neil Perry’s ‘Balance & Harmony’ cookbook the latest source of culinary inspiration.  

And when there is time to take a much-deserved break from his inspirational work for MS, the Butzkueven family pack up and head to an isolated spot in East Gippsland Victoria to enjoy the simple pleasures of camping and hiking.  

Associate Professor Butzkueven’s passion for his research into MS is because of the people with MS. “It’s a great privilege to have met so many and to have walked with them for a while. I detest the damage that an illness like MS wreaks on so many people’s lives. But I am noticing that medical science is starting to do a lot better, with new and effective drugs being developed and entering clinical practice. This proves that research is worthwhile.”  

“Helmut is a top clinician and terrific researcher – with this research he is fast-tracking our efforts to eventually solve MS,” says Executive Director MS Research Australia, Jeremy Wright.  

Trish Foundation & MS Research Australia Working together to find a cure for MS
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