Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

Dr. Helen Tremlett

Canada Research Chair in Neuroepidemiology and Multiple Sclerosis and Professor

Affiliation(s): University of British Columbia

photo of Dr. Helen Tremlett

Dr. Tremlett’s research program is funded through operating grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the MS Society of Canada, the MS Scientific Research Foundation, the US National MS Society among others. She is trained in pharmacoepidemiology and multiple sclerosis with a PhD from Cardiff University, UK. Her research interests include: the natural history of MS; prognosis and predictors of disease progression in MS; mortality; safety and effectiveness of the immunomodulatory drugs (IMDs) for MS; pharmacogenomics; MS epidemiology; incidence and prevalence of MS; life expectancy in MS; comorbidities and MS; pregnancy and MS; impact of parental MS on childhood developmental outcomes; health administrative data; the MS prodrome; the gut microbiome and MS.

She has authored over 150 peer-reviewed papers. For more information about her research program and career opportunities, please visit

Learn more about Dr. Tremlett

How did you become interested in MS research? What inspires you to continue advancing research in this field?

A lucky break made possible by the MS Society of Canada started my interests in MS research. As a newly minted PhD graduate (focused on MS), I was fortunate enough to gain a one-year post-doctoral award from the MS Society of Canada. I wanted to study MS further in the best place on earth - British Columbia - specifically the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. I had heard about Dr Paty's ground-breaking work with the beta-interferon pivotal clinical trials. That was nearly 15 years ago! I was then awarded a Don Paty Career Development Grant. I have many things that inspire me including: my past and present talented staff and trainees who are dedicated to MS research, people with MS whom I have the pleasure of interacting with and who use their skills to educate us all about living with chronic disease and people engaged with the MS Society who work tirelessly to fundraise—Go MS Walkers and MS Bikers!

What do you enjoy most about doing research and what are some of the challenges you face?

Enjoy most: being engaged in cutting-edge research; making interesting or unexpected discoveries; interacting with students; sharing our research findings with people with MS and the scientific community

Challenges: Grant writing! But it is always worth it in the end.

In particular, I would like to acknowledge two members of my team who devoted much of their summer in 2017 to writing grants: Dr Elaine Kingwell and Dr José Wijnands

Describe the importance and level of collaboration in your research?

Collaborating is key. My team have many active and fruitful national and international collaborations. Canada in particular is a great place for collaborative research and I really value those interactions and connections that my team have developed over the years. Working with the other MS researchers across the Canadian provinces has been a real privilege.

How important is the support from the MS Society in enabling you to conduct research?

Having a dedicated charity focused on a specific disease (MS) is hugely important.

Initiatives such as the endMS training program has created a legacy from which my staff and students still benefit.

If you could ask one question to a person living with MS that would help you design your study, what would it be?

I would like to ask a challenging 'why' question.

IF we confirm early reports that people with HIV seem to be at a very low risk of developing MS and/or have a very 'mild' MS disease course. Why do you think that might be the case?

Also, I am in interested in asking the following: What would you most like to know about the good (and occasionally not-so-good) bugs living in our guts?

View all of Dr. Helen Tremlett's funded research.

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