Affiliation(s): Western University
Dr. Morrow is an Associate Professor in the Department of Clinical Neurological Sciences at Western University (London, ON). She received her MD from the University of Calgary and completed her residency training in neurology at Western University. This was followed by a clinical fellowship in MS at the London MS clinic at Western University and a research fellowship on Cognition and MS with Dr. Ralph Benedict, a neuropsychologist, at the Jacobs Neurologic Institute in Buffalo NY. Dr. Morrow has also completed a Master's of Science in Epidemiology at the State University of New York at Buffalo. In addition to her clinical work in the London MS clinic, she established the first MS Cognitive clinic in Canada located at Parkwood Institute. She currently has over 70 peer-reviewed publications in the area of MS. She is a Board member for the Consortium of MS Centers and on the editorial board of both the International Journal of MS care and the Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences. She is on the steering committee of MS in the 21st Century, an international collaboration with the aim of defining how MS treatment and standard of care should look in the 21st century. Her research interests are cognition in MS and the use of corticosteroids for the treatment of relapses in MS.
How did you become interested in MS research? What inspires you to continue advancing research in this field?
I became interested in MS research as a medical student while studying at the University of Calgary. I was lucky enough to work with Dr. Luanne Metz, the director of the University of Calgary’s MS clinic, on a research project regarding the use of oral corticosteroids for MS relapses. Working on this project, and shadowing her and other neurologists in the clinic, inspired me to become an MS specialist and clinician-researcher.
What do you enjoy most about doing research and what are some of the challenges you face?
There are two things I enjoy most about my research program. First is my interaction with patients. MS patients are a wonderful group of people to interact with, both clinically and in a research setting. My patients motivate me to want to improve treatment options and their quality of life. Secondly, I enjoy the excitement of answering a question that has not previously been answered, the discovery of a new positive result that will impact MS patients or our understanding of the disease.
Describe the importance and level of collaboration in your research?
Cognitive impairment is a frequent and devastating consequence of MS, affecting 40-65% of persons with MS. Persons with MS and cognitive impairment are more likely to choose, or be forced, to decrease their contribution at work; some leave the workforce completely. Cognitive impairment also has a substantial negative impact on interpersonal relationships. Previous studies have demonstrated that, once present, cognitive impairment is unlikely to remit. Yet, to date, there are no treatments available to help with this distressing symptom. Collaboration is of utmost importance for research. Sometimes our research does not answer the question we want but provides information that steers you in a new direction or generates new hypotheses. It is only by collaborating with others that we can achieve our long-term common goal, which is improving treatment options, slowing down or stopping the effects of MS on our patients and improving their quality of life.
How important is the support from the MS Society in enabling you to conduct research?
I am honoured to have received support from MSSC to conduct this research. It is truly a pan-Canadian study, with five cities across the country, addressing an understudied area of MS. Without MSSC funding, we would not be able to carry out this project.