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Affiliation(s): University of Calgary
Dr. V. Wee Yong is a Professor at the University of Calgary, Canada, and the Canada Research Chair in Neuroimmunology. He co-leads the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) NeuroTeam of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary, and he directs the provincial Alberta MS Network. Dr. Yong’s research interests lie in the area of neuroimmunology, neuroprotection and CNS regeneration, and his projects are guided principally by MS. Dr. Yong was brought up in Malaysia and was educated in England (BSc, University of Manchester) and the University of British Columbia (PhD, postdoctoral training). Dr. Yong has published 360 peer-reviewed manuscripts and his research has been translated into Phase III clinical trials in MS and spinal cord injury. His work has been cited over 35,000 times by other authors (Google Scholar). Dr. Yong is a past chair of the Medical Advisory Committee of the MS Society of Canada; this and other volunteer activities resulted in him receiving the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Year Medallion. Dr. Yong is on the editorial board of 7 international journals; he is the Honorary Editor-in-Chief of the journal Neuroimmunology and Neuroinflammation. He has been the President of the International Society of Neuroimmunology (2014-2016). Dr. Yong is an elected fellow of both the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and the Royal Society of Canada. He is the 2017 Allyn Taylor International Prize in Medicine winner.
How did you become interested in MS research? What inspires you to continue advancing research in this field?
During my post-doctoral fellow training at the University of British Columbia, I trained with an oligodendrocyte biologist, Dr. Seung Kim. Since oligodendrocytes are lost in MS, that started my involvement in MS research. The courage of the individuals living with MS and the fortitude that they display inspire my involvement in MS research and to continue the advances.
What do you enjoy most about doing research and what are some of the challenges you face?
I enjoy the daily discovery of new insights into biology and the mechanisms of disease. A challenge is the continuing demand to secure research grants to continue research activities.
Describe the importance and level of collaboration in your research?
Highly important, since the collaborators bring expertise that I do not have. An example is the clinical trial of minocycline in early MS that I participated in. My laboratory made the basic science finding of the potential utility of minocycline in MS, but it was the crucial collaboration of neurologists, particularly Dr. Luanne Metz at the University of Calgary, that brought that idea into clinical trials to prove its utility in early MS.
How important is the support from the MS Society in enabling you to conduct research?
Exceptionally important. The MS Society has funded my research since 1991 and has enabled us to learn new insights and to develop new strategies and medications to help those with MS.
If you could ask one question to a person living with MS that would help you design your study, what would it be?
What would be the most important feature of MS for me to learn how to control: stop the progression of disability, promote repair, prevent attacks, enhance rapid recovery from attacks, or others?