iConquer MS needs you!


Are you Ready to Help Conquer Multiple Sclerosis?





The Accelerated Cure Project (ACP), a non-profit organization based in Boston, was founded by a person living with MS, and its sole focus has been to facilitate research that will lead to a cure for Multiple Sclerosis.  ACP has undertaken a number of exciting projects to work toward this goal, but none of them match the size of this one….  you and I have a central place to share our healthcare data and research ideas , through iConquerMS™.

This project is funded by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research  Institute (PCORI), which gathers its money from the fee paid by all of us on our private health insurance premiums.  This amount is only $1 per year per insured person, but spread across the entire US population, that adds up to some very impressive numbers.   Even more impressive is this organization is charged with finding ways to shift to patient centered health care and research.

In keeping with the patient centered approach, the majority of people guiding the development of iConquerMS™ are like you and me – people living with multiple sclerosis. Many of the leaders within iConquerMS™ are names familiar to you from being a part of the online MultipleSclerosis community, including Lisa EmrichStephanie ButlerChristie German, Dave Bexfield and Marc Stecker.

iCMS 2


MS research facilities and MS clinics are also represented through the presence of doctors and lead research scientists on the various committees.   Think about this for a minute – I would wager that iConquerMS™ is the first time all of these key players and organizations have been gathered into one place, a place where you and I as people living with multiple sclerosis are leading the discussion and developing the research.  And we are governing the project.

iCMS 3

There is so much more I can tell you about iConquerMS™ , PCORI and my involvement with both, but I want to get on to something more important – let’s talk about you.  What can you do to get involved?  Quite simply, you begin when you Join iConquerMS™ . The details of this project, the sponsors, its use and the informed consent information is on the iCnquerMS™ website, but let me share a brief overview of what you can expect to find –


iCMS 4

You will be asked to complete a few questionnaires that will look familiar to you  – especially the MS Neuro Quality of Life (MSNQoL) survey which most of us do regularly for our doctors or if we participate in NARCOMS. This survey is a standard tool in all types of MS studies and is a critical piece of information even though it might appear to be pretty useless.  The information from my own MSNQoL by itself means little except for me and my doctor, but if you have this completed by 20,000 people with MS, it gives a panoramic view of our quality of life.  iConquerMS™ needs this type of big data to look for our cure.


Stop and think about BIG DATA and what it will look like when we have the electronic medical records of 20,000 people who live with MS and the information that researchers will be able to glean from this big picture.


The next piece of iConquerMS™ is what I get most excited about – we have an opportunity to suggest research topics.  How many times have you wondered about your MS and a particular question comes to mind and you think it would be nice if someone looked into finding an answer?  We want your research ideas – one of us might have just the right question that unlocks one of the many mysteries of multiple sclerosis.  This word cloud is made from the research ideas already submitted –

iCMS 5

We are asking a lot from everyone to make this giant step to participate by sharing your health data, and investing your time in helping to build our Big Data picture for research.  But doesn’t MS ask a lot from us EVERYDAY?

Please join me at iConquerMS.org   – share the excitement and power of patient centered research!

wishing you well,






Patient Powered Research Networks (PPRN) & You


Do you wonder how you might get involved with research in a simple way? You can always connect with one of the Patient Powered Research Networks (PPRN’s) that are actively looking for people to share their health data and research questions. PPRN’s are an offspring of the Patient Centered Outcome Research Institute (PCORI) and cover a wide range of chronic diseases and conditions.


I write often about the Multiple Sclerosis PPRN, iConquerMS™, and my role as the Lead Patient Representative and now also the Chair of the Governing Board.  I would love to have all of you join our PPRN and join the Big Data movement to find the answers about multiple slcerosis.

You can learn about PPRN’s, and PCORI through our portal at www.iconquerms.org.  But perhaps you have other conditions you live with and want to do more.


Following is the complete list of PPRNs and some of their identifying information.  I encourage you to read through the list, explore the associated links and see where you might help advance research.  At the very least, we all qualify for Health eHeart, an ambitious heart history registry that only takes a few minutes to complete and is for everyone, whether we  have heart disease or not.


We can only build this new way of doing research by getting the  help of many people,  and that includes you.

Be well,



PPRN’s of as May 1, 2015 and their information, from data I have compiled. Let me know if you spot omissions or errors so I can make the corrections.


ALD Connect

Network name:  ALD Connect

Website: http://www.aldconnect.org/

Project summary available at:  http://www.pcori.org/research-results/2013/ald-connect

Organization: ALD Connect, Inc.

Condition: Adrenoleukodystrophy

Population Characteristics: Pediatric and Middle Aged


ABOUT – American BRCA Outcomes and Utilization of Testing Patient-Powered Research Network (ABOUT Network)

Network Name:   ABOUT  Network

Website: https:aboutnetwork.org


Project summary available at http://www.pcori.org/node/4408

Organization: University of South Florida


Condition: Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer

Population Characteristics: Female



Arthritis Patient Partnership with Comparative Effectiveness Researchers (AR-PoWER)

Network name: AR-PoWER


Website:  in progress

Project summary at http://www.pcori.org/node/4401


Organization: Global Healthy Living Foundation

Project summary available at http://www.pcori.org/node/4401


Condition: Arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis, spondyloarthritis), musculoskeletal disorders (osteoporosis), and inflammatory conditions (psoriasis)

Population Characteristics: All


The CCFA Partners Patient-Powered Research Network

Network name:  CCFA PPRN


Project summary available at http://www.pcori.org/node/4397

Website:  https://ccfa.med.unc.edu/user/sign_up

Organization: Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, Inc.

Condition: Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis)

Population Characteristics: All


CENA – Community Engaged Network for All

Network name: CENA

Website: http://www.jsrdf.org/JSLIFE


Project summary available at http://www.pcori.org/node/4400

Organization: Genetic Alliance, Inc.

Condition: Alström syndrome, Dyskeratosis congenital, Gaucher disease, Hepatitis, Inflammatory breast cancer, Joubert syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome and associated conditions, Metachromatic leukodystrophy, Pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE), Psoriasis


Population Characteristics: All


The COPD Patient-Powered Research Network

Network name: COPD PPRN


Project summary available at http://www.pcori.org/node/4396

Website: www.COPDPPRN.org


Organization: COPD Foundation, Inc.

Condition: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder

Population Characteristics: Multiple co-morbidities



Duchenne Connect Patient-Report Registry Infrastructure Project

Network name: DuchenneConnect Patient Registry

Project summary available at http://www.pcori.org/node/4404


Organization: Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy

Condition: Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy

Population Characteristics: Pediatric


Health eHeart Alliance

Network name:  Health eHeart Registry

Organization: University of California San Francisco

Website: https://www.health-eheartstudy.org/

Project summary available at http://www.pcori.org/node/4407

Condition: Cardiovascular health

Population Characteristics: Multiple co-morbidities


ImproveCareNow: A Learning Health System for Children with Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

Network name: ImproveCareNow Registry

Website: https://improvecarenow.org/

Project summary available at

Organization: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center


Mood Patient-Powered Research Network

Network name: MoodNetwork

Website: www.moodnetwork.org


Project summary available at http://www.pcori.org/node/4403

Organization: Massachusetts General Hospital (The General Hospital Corp.)

Condition: Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Bipolar Disorder (BP)

Population Characteristics: Multiple co-morbidities.

Seeking to enroll : individuals with mood disorders (unipolar depression and bipolar disorder)


Why should someone join this PPRN: To help prioritize the research questions for mood disorders, to share data to better understand mood disorders and create better interventions, and to join a community of people actively seeking answers to the diagnosis and treatment of mood disorders.

(thanks to Dan Goodman, Mood PPRN Patient Rep, for the additional information)

A Multiple Sclerosis Patient-Powered Research Network

Network name: iConquerMS™

Organization: Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis

Website: www.iConquerMS.org

Project summary available at  http://www.pcori.org/node/4391


Condition: Multiple Sclerosis, including RRMS, SPMS and  PPMS,  as well as CIS and RIS

Population Characteristics: 70% Female

Enrolling controls: Yes

Why should someone join this PPRN?  iConquerMS is a unique opportunity to  share data and research questions from  a patient centered approach to find the cause of multiple sclerosis, and identify ways to improve the quality of life of people living with MS.


NephCure Kidney Network for Patients with Nephrotic Syndrome

Network name: NephCure Patient Registry

Organization: Arbor Research Collaborative for Health

Website:  https://www.nephcurekidneynetwork.org/


Project summary available at http://www.pcori.org/node/4394

Condition: Primary Nephrotic Syndrome (Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis [FSGS], Minimal Change Disease [MCD], and Membranous Nephropathy [MN])

Population Characteristics: All


The Patients, Advocates and Rheumatology Teams Network for Research and Service (PARTNERS) Consortium

Network name: PARTNERS


Project summary available at http://www.pcori.org/node/4398

Organization: Duke University

Condition: Juvenile Rheumatic Disease

Population Characteristics: Pediatric

Enrolling controls:



Phelan-McDermid Syndrome Data Network


Organization: Phelan-McDermid Syndrome Foundation       Phelan McDermid Syndrome Foundation

Website:  https://pmsiregistry.patientcrossroads.org/


Project summary available at http://www.pcori.org/node/4405

Condition: Phelan-McDermid Syndrome

Population Characteristics: Pediatric


PI Patient Research Connection: PI-CONNECT

Network name: Pi-Connect

Organization: Immune Deficiency Foundation



Project summary available at http://www.pcori.org/node/4402

Condition: Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases

Population Characteristics: All


Rare Epilepsy Network (REN)

Network name: Rare Epilepsy Network Registry

Organization: Epilepsy Foundation

Website: https://ren.rti.org/


Project summary available at http://www.pcori.org/node/4399

Condition: Aicardi Syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, Phelan-McDermid Syndrome, Hypothalamic Hamartoma, Dravet Syndrome, and Tuberous Sclerosis

Population Characteristics: Pediatric


Sleep Apnea Patient Centered Outcomes Network (SAPCON)

Network name: MyApnea

Organization:American Sleep Apnea Association

Website: https://myapnea.org/

Project summary available at http://www.pcori.org/node/4393

Condition: Sleep Apnea

Population Characteristics: Multiple co-morbidities



The Vasculitis Patient-Powered Research Network

Network name: Vasculitis Patient-Powered Research Network

The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania

Website: http://www.vpprn.org/


Project summary available at http://www.pcori.org/node/4406

Condition: Vasculitis

Population Characteristics: Adults








MS Bloggers, Walkers, Researchers & More


It’s been quite the week – it began on Saturday with our local NMSS MS Walk –  we were finally given a beautiful weather day, which made for high spirits and the perfect combination for many people to gather for this good cause.  Our team Ray of Hope: UD Alumni and Friends, had a strong showing of over 50 people.


On Sunday I headed off to Boston for a Monday meeting hosted by a pharmaceutical company-  this was their first MS Blogger Summit, and while I am still not quite sure how I ended up on their radar and got an invitation, I  was happy to be there.  This was an impressive group of people who come at their MS and treatment from a wide variety of perspectives and it was a good reminder that my way of dealing with MS is not necessarily the way of others.  There remains to be no right or wrong way to approach Multiple Sclerosis.  I’ll be blogging more about this  MS Blogger Summit, but for now I would like to share the image from this meeting so you can see this lovely group of people who make MS advocacy part of their regular routine.


A gathering of the blogger community to discuss needs and interests of MSers


Tuesday I had the honor of working in an intensive session with the team at The Accelerated Cure Project, alongside fellow blogger Lisa Emrich and my new MS friend Lindsay.  We are working on a new patient portal that will allow people with MS to share electronic health data, which may not sound so novel since so many sites out there want our data.  What makes ACP’s Patient Powered Research Network (MS PPRN) unique is patients like you and Lisa  and me will help to identify research questions that we want answered.

with Lisa Emrich at the ACP offices in Boston










We left the ACP meeting on the low fly to the airport to jet down to Washington DC for the next day’s PCORI sessions with all the PPRNs that have been funded.   You will be hearing much more from me in the coming months about ways to participate in this project, but in the meantime you can learn more about PCORnet and its purpose through these links.


I am always excited and rejuvenated in my determination in advocating for the MS community when I have the opportunity to interact in person with others on a like path – to have four distinctly different encounters this week leaves me almost breathless and it definitely has left me exhausted and in need of more sleep. The only disappointment of the week was my goal to see the Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC were dashed by a strong spring wind and torrential rain that flushed the blooms from the trees a mere 18 hours before my arrival; a live view will remain on my bucket list and perhaps next year my timing will be better. Until then , the wonderful photos of others will have to do.

What I might have seen if only the weather had left those fragile blossoms to hang one more day…..








My latest blog for MultipleSclerosis.net What’s in a Name takes a look at what we are called as a community,  and please be sure to take a moment for the Dr. Pepper link to understand my jingle – wouldn’t you like to be an MSer, too!

Enjoy the beginning of the spring season, and I’ll see you soon with more details.

Be well,