The new Honorary Doctor hopes to create a vaccine against MS

May 21, 2024

Ascherio is one of eight new honorary doctors to be appointed this spring at the University of Bergen. The professor is a world-leading epidemiologist who has made groundbreaking contributions to the understanding of various neurological diseases such as MS and Parkinson's disease. «What is the next step for MS research?»«The focus now will be on understanding the mechanisms by which the Epstein-Barr virus causes MS. I am very proud of my connection to the University of Bergen, and I look forward to expanding our collaboration,» says Ascherio. The nine candidates will be awarded their honorary doctorates at a ceremony to be held in the University Aula on May 24th.

Ascherio is one of eight new honorary doctors to be appointed this spring at the University of Bergen. The professor is a world-leading epidemiologist who has made groundbreaking contributions to the understanding of various neurological diseases such as MS and Parkinson's disease.

Since 2001, Ascherio has been working on a theory that the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), commonly known as the cause of mononucleosis or "kissing disease," is linked to a significantly increased risk of developing MS later in life. The breakthrough came in January 2022 when Dr. Ascherio published a comprehensive research article confirming a clear connection between EBV infection and the development of MS. This article was published in collaboration with UiB's former PhD candidates Kjetil Bjørnevik and Marianna Cortese.

Successful collaboration 

Ascherio explains that the breakthrough was the result of over 20 years of meticulous work.

«It was made possible by early recognition of this being a valid hypothesis and subsequent efforts to identify and make available the right population and ensure funding for the study. The successful implementation required collaboration with many individuals from various institutions, including my collaborators in Bergen,»  says Ascherio.

«What is the next step for MS research?» 

«The focus now will be on understanding the mechanisms by which the Epstein-Barr virus causes MS. Exploring therapeutic effects that can inhibit the virus from progressing and possibly developing an EBV vaccine to prevent MS. UiB has taken a leading role in this work, largely thanks to the million-dollar support from the EU.»

«Are there any areas you have not explored that you would like to work on in the future?» 

«Yes, many! Including how we can cure ALS and prevent Alzheimer's disease.» 

A significant career

Alberto Ascherio currently works as a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in the USA. However, his research career began when he made a significant discovery during an outbreak of illness among children in Nicaragua.

«My very first article reported the discovery of a poisonous fruit causing paralysis and death among children. Although it was a very small contribution in itself, it had a significant impact on my career because it demonstrated how epidemiological methods can lead to discoveries that would be impossible on clinical grounds alone. I also contributed to demonstrating the negative effects of trans fats produced in food processing. This has likely helped prevent cases of cardiovascular morbidity and premature death worldwide.» 

Among other important discoveries, Ascherio and his research team have done extensive work in demonstrating how vitamin D deficiency can affect the development of MS. Additionally, he has made findings about the importance of physical activity in preventing Parkinson's disease, as well as the intake of fatty acids and disease development in ALS patients.

His collaboration with the University of Bergen began many years ago when Ascherio was introduced to Professor Trond Riise, and the two began exploring the causes of MS.

«My connection to Bergen has strengthened over time, largely thanks to Dr. Kjetil Bjørnevik and Marianna Cortese, who joined our research team in 2017. I am very proud of my connection to the University of Bergen, and I look forward to expanding our collaboration,»  says Ascherio.

The nine candidates will be awarded their honorary doctorates at a ceremony to be held in the University Aula on May 24th.  

The source of this news is from University of Bergen

Popular in Research

1

1 day ago

Bringing Crises into Focus

2

6 days ago

Visionary cognitive neuroscientist Susan Courtney dies at 57

3

Jun 7, 2024

From ashes to adversity: Lessons from South Australia's business recovery amidst bushfires and pandemic

4

6 days ago

Tornados leave trail of destruction as 4 injured, hundreds of homes damaged

5

1 week ago

SV-faculty becomes partner in two new doctoral networks

Statement by NYU Spokesperson John Beckman about Situation on Greene St. Walkway

1 day ago

NATO chief says Ukraine can still win war despite Russian advances

1 day ago

Trump, Biden and CNN Prepare for a Hostile Debate (With Muted Mics)

1 day ago

The Resistance to a New Trump Administration Has Already Started

1 day ago

Fostering research, careers, and community in materials science

1 hour from now

NYU’s Spring ITP/IMA Show Offers A Glimpse into the Future

1 day ago