National MS Society – Detecting Multiple Sclerosis Before the Onset of Neurological Deficits

March 5, 2021 by


This RFA is intended to support knowledge generation that will eventually lead to early detection of MS at the individual level. The RFA does not include funds to start new MS cohorts, applicants are encouraged to utilize existing cohorts and associated datasets and biological samples. Applications should address critical knowledge gaps in our understanding of preclinical and prodromal phases of MS. These knowledge gaps include but are not limited to:

·     A better understanding of the risk factors that play a role in initiating MS and the interactions between them

·    Biomarkers (fluid, tissue, imaging, behavioral) with potential utility to identify those who will develop MS

·    An improved definition of the period prior to clinically definite MS with biological and behavioral markers, health data and sociological features

·    A mechanistic understanding of the pathophysiology of preclinical and prodromal MS

·    A better understanding of the heterogeneity of preclinical and prodromal phases of MS in different populations

This list is not meant to be exhaustive and applicants are encouraged to identify and address other gaps that stand in the way of earlier detection of MS.



A priority objective of the Roadmap is the early detection of MS prior to the accumulation of neurological deficits. This RFA is designed to solicit research to advance this objective. This RFA is open to both not-for-profit academic research institutes and for-profit commercial organizations around the world.

Areas of high interest include studies:

·    That utilize robust/well characterized biomarkers (fluid, tissue, imaging, behavioral)

·    To evaluate combinations of risk factors, biomarkers, and health data in stratifying risk

·    In underserved and understudied ethnic and racial MS populations

·    To better understand the mechanism of specifically identified MS risk factors using animal models, cellular models, or MS tissues

Areas not supported include:

·    Early treatment (prevention) studies using animal models

·    Studies that require the establishment and long-term support of a new cohort

·    Research/Development of a disease-modifying therapy


Funding: A total expense of up to $300,000 USD (direct costs) for two years of support will be provided and must be justified based on the scientific and development work plan.


Key Dates:

·    Pre-applications accepted beginning March 1, 2021

·    Pre-application Deadline: 5:00 pm Eastern Time, April 23, 2021

·    Full application Deadline: 5:00 pm Eastern Time, April 30, 2021


Town Hall Q & A Webinar

We invite you to join a Town Hall webinar where Society research staff will describe the intent of the RFA and answer questions. This session will be recorded and posted to the website.


·    Date/Time: Wednesday, March 17, 2021, 12 noon Eastern

·    Follow this link to register  After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

URL for more information:

Please visit the website for the full RFA, instructions and contacts

Filed Under: Funding Opportunities