Dr. Fritz wins second Whitaker Prize for MS research

June 12, 2017

Nora Fritz, Ph.D., P.T., D.P.T., N.C.S., assistant professor of Neurology for the Wayne State University School of Medicine and assistant professor of Physical Therapy for the WSU Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, has for the second time secured a prestigious award for research in the field of multiple sclerosis.

Dr. Fritz received the Whitaker Prize for Multiple Sclerosis Research from the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers. The prize is presented annually to a young and emerging scientist whose work is judged to have substantial promise in increasing the understanding of multiple sclerosis.

Dr. Fritz received the honor for “Establishing the Relationship of Quantitative Vibratory Sensation and Sensory Cortical Areas in Multiple Sclerosis.” In that study, she set out to explore the relationship between vibratory sensation and brain pathology in patients with MS. She found significant relationships among poorer vibratory sensation and reduced cortical thickness of the cingulate cortex, precentral gyrus, paracentral gyrus and inferior frontal gyrus, as well as reduced thalamic volume. Quantitative measurement of vibratory sensation not only reflects pathological changes in spatially distinct brain areas, it may provide a tool to examine progression over time in individuals with progressive MS, she said.

“The Whitaker Prize was developed to honor Dr. John Whitaker for his outstanding contributions to the science of MS and his unwavering support of young investigators,” Dr. Fritz said. “It is truly an honor to be recognized by the CMSC with the Whitaker Prize as I work toward my goal of improving outcome measures and rehabilitation for people with MS.”

Dr. Fritz also won the award in 2015 for her presentation “Evaluating Cerebellar Contributions to Physical Performance and Cognition in Multiple Sclerosis.” She is the only two-time winner of the Whitaker Prize.

John Whitaker, M.D., was the chair of Neurology for the University of Alabama at Birmingham from 1985 until his death in 2001. He published more than 200 papers in the field of MS and was lead investigator in three advanced trials of therapeutic agents for MS, including early interferon beta agents in relapsing remitting MS and glatiramer acetate in primary progressive MS.

The Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers provides leadership in clinical research and education, develops methods to share information and knowledge among members, disseminates information to the health care community and to persons affected by multiple sclerosis, and develops and implements mechanisms to influence health care delivery. With more than 200 member centers in the United States and Canada, the consortium represents more than 10,000 health care professionals worldwide who provide care for more than 200,000 people with MS.

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