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Detecting Multiple Sclerosis Before the Onset of Neurological Deficits Funding

Grants to USA, Canada, and International Investigators at Nonprofits
and For-Profits for Research into Early Detection of Multiple Sclerosis

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society

LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

04/30/21 5:00 PM ET


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Grants to USA, Canada, and International investigators at nonprofit research institutions and for-profit organizations for research into early detection of Multiple Sclerosis. Applicants are required to submit a brief pre-application prior to submitting a full application. Candidates are encouraged to utilize existing cohorts and associated datasets and biological samples.

The National MS Society is pleased to announce the release of a new Request for Applications focusing on Detecting Multiple Sclerosis Before the Onset of Neurological Deficits, intended to support research that advances the Society's Pathways to Cures Roadmap. 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 intended to support knowledge generation that will eventually lead to early detection of MS at the individual level. Applications should address critical knowledge gaps in the 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. 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

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 195304

Estimated Size of Grant:

A total expense of up to a total of $300,000 USD (direct cost) will be provided and must be justified based on the scientific and development work plan.

Term of Contract:

Awards are expected to start on October 1, 2021 - for two years of support.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

This RFA is open to both not-for-profit academic research institutes and for-profit commercial organizations around the world.

Applicants should possess an M.D., Ph.D., or equivalent and be considered eligible by their institution to apply for grant support. Postdoctoral fellows, residents, and other trainees are not eligible to apply. Please see the RFA instructions or Society Policies and Procedures, in Supporting Documents, below, for exceptions for project managers at for-profit institutions.

The RFA does not include funds to start new MS cohorts.

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

Pre-Application Information:

- Pre-applications will be accepted beginning: March 1, 2021
- Final deadline for pre-applications: 5 PM ET, April 23, 2021
- Final deadline for full applications: 5 PM ET, April 30, 2021

A brief pre-application is required to determine if a proposal is aligned with the objectives of the RFA. Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with Society scientific staff prior to submitting a proposal (see contact information below). Upon review of pre-applications by staff, applicants proposing work that is aligned with the RFA objectives will be invited to submit full applications.

Applications are to be submitted through the National MS Society's online grant submission portal - MSGrants.

Once the pre-application is approved you will receive an automated message from the system and you will be able to begin preparation of the full application. In some cases, Society staff may send the pre-application back to you for clarification or changes before final approval. In the grantee portal, click on the Open Applications link and then on Edit to begin working on the full application.

The evaluation of proposals from all types of organizations will be done by a single peer review committee, however, commercial proposals will also be expected to address the commercial viability of the approach – including intellectual property strategy and commercialization strategy. For evaluation criteria, see:

Watch a recording of the March 17 Town Hall Q & A session during which Society research staff describe the intent of the RFA and answer questions:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.


For more information about this RFA, please contact:
Walt Kostich
Director, Commercial Research

Mark Allegretta
Vice President, Research

If you have any questions concerning the online application process such as using the online screens, file uploads, and downloads; questions about National Multiple Sclerosis Society policy or the content of your proposal, please contact one of the following members of the Research Programs team:

Phyllis Motta (212) 476-0518
Caryn Knutsen (212) 476-0437

Please note that online and telephone support is only available Monday through Friday from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. Eastern Time.

National Multiple Sclerosis Society
733 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10017-3288
Telephone (212) 986-3240

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

USA Territories: American Samoa (USA)   Guam (USA)   Puerto Rico (USA)   Virgin Islands (USA)   Northern Mariana Islands (USA)

USA Compact Free Associations: The Federated States of Micronesia (USA)   Marshall Islands (USA)   Republic of Palau (USA)

Canada: Alberta;   British Columbia;   Manitoba;   New Brunswick;   Newfoundland and Labrador;   Northwest Territories;   Nova Scotia;   Nunavut;   Ontario;   Prince Edward Island;   Quebec;   Saskatchewan;   Yukon;


International country outside of the USA, Israel and Canada.

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