Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada


Government of Alberta Supports Canadian Prospective Cohort Study to Understand Progression in Multiple Sclerosis (CanProCo) with $1 Million Investment

  • National News Release

Toronto, ON – December 10, 2019 – The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Brain Canada Foundation, Biogen Canada, and Hoffmann-La Roche Limited (Roche Canada) announced today a $1 million investment from the Government of Alberta, in partnership with the department of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, towards the Canadian Prospective Cohort Study to Understand Progression in Multiple Sclerosis (CanProCo). This latest investment brings the total amount awarded for the project to more than $10 million, which will be used to help better understand the disease and how it affects Canadians.

This initiative is the first of its kind in Canada, and is built on a public, industry, and philanthropic collaboration that brings together institutions from across Canada under one umbrella. It will be a unique data platform, with Alberta providing strong leadership as the first province to coordinate and collaborate on this important initiative.

This $1 million investment, supported and coordinated by Campus Alberta Neuroscience(CAN), will highlight and leverage research expertise in the province of Alberta to enhance our understanding of progression in MS, with two of the five clinical sites for the project located in Alberta, one at the University of Calgary and another at the University of Alberta. Dr. Scott Patten (University of Calgary) is a co-principal investigator, and Dr. Penny Smyth (University of Alberta) and Dr. Luanne Metz (University of Calgary) are site principal investigators on the project. The CanProCo will also serve as an invaluable open access data platform available to the MS research community and the broader community studying neurodegenerative disorders with common pathways.

“Alberta is proud to lead this initiative and support health innovations through the commercialization of technologies, expanding the knowledge base of translational and clinical research, and creating seed opportunities to attract further investment by industry partners. We will increase economic activity through the creation of new market-focused intellectual property that will have direct commercial relevance anchored in Alberta. Development of new products and technology will have direct benefits to patients and boost investment attraction, which is a win-win,” said Alberta’s Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, Tanya Fir.

CanProCo is a unique initiative, bringing together nearly 50 leading MS researchers from various disciplines across Canada. Through a collaborative effort, researchers hope to understand why some people progress in their MS while others do not. The research team will identify triggers for progression and establish methods of managing them, while measuring the impact of MS on individuals and the Canadian healthcare system.

“I’m very pleased to welcome the Government of Alberta as a partner of CanProCo,” said Dr. Pamela Valentine, president and CEO, MS Society of Canada. “Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world and we need to have partnerships like these, which bring together different sectors like government, industry and non-profit organizations, to combat this disease. As an Albertan myself, it gives me great pleasure to see the province of Alberta join us in our mission to have a world free of MS.”

This innovative study is led by renowned MS researcher and neurologist, Dr. Jiwon Oh from St. Michael’s Hospital of Unity Health Toronto and the University of Toronto. Working collaboratively alongside Dr. Oh are co-principal investigators, Dr. Shannon Kolind (University of British Columbia), Dr. Larry Lynd (University of British Columbia), Dr. Scott Patten (University of Calgary), Dr. Alexandre Prat (Centre de Recherche du CHUM), Dr. Roger Tam (University of British Columbia), and Dr. Anthony Traboulsee (University of British Columbia).

Over a five-year span, Dr. Oh and her team will collect and analyze data from Canadians living with MS while accounting for biological, physical and socioeconomic factors to gain a holistic understanding of each individual’s unique MS experience. With this data, researchers hope to improve diagnostic processes, treatment, long-term monitoring and potentially prevent MS from manifesting. The data will also be used to create a centralized and open source of data that may be relevant for other neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and Huntington's because of the potential for common disease mechanisms.

To learn more about the Canadian Prospective Cohort Study to Understand Progression in MS, visit the website here.

Background on the Canadian Prospective Cohort Study to Understand Progression in MS (CanProCo)

Progression – or the steady worsening of disease, resulting in increased disability – is a challenging reality faced by people affected by MS. While major advances have been made in MS research over the last 30 years, the mechanism of progression and the ways in which researchers and clinicians can track progression are still not fully understood. The CanProCo can have significant implications on how those living with MS manage and understand their illness from diagnosis and throughout the various stages of the disease. This study will look at progression from the biological, physical, and socioeconomic perspectives, and will meaningfully engage people living with MS so that their individual experiences are captured. Ultimately, the goal of the cohort is to connect biological findings with real world and clinical findings to create a comprehensive picture of progression in MS, with the hope that researchers will better understand the unpredictable nature of the disease and find a cure.

The Government of Alberta joins founding partners Brain Canada Foundation, which receives financial support from Health Canada through the Canada Brain Research Fund, Biogen Canada and the MS Society of Canada, as well as Hoffmann-La Roche Limited (Roche Canada) in their support of this $10+ million research investment. The MS Society is grateful to lead donors, PCL Construction and Bennett Jones LLP for their generous support at $1.25 million and $1 million, respectively, as well as to several individuals who made significant contributions.


About multiple sclerosis and the MS Society of Canada

Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world. On average, 11 Canadians are diagnosed every day. MS is a chronic autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord). Most people are diagnosed with MS between the ages of 20 and 49 and the unpredictable effects of the disease will last for the rest of their lives. The MS Society provides information, support and advocacy to people affected by MS, and funds research to find the cause and cure for the disease, bringing us closer to a world free of MS. Please visit or call 1-800-268-7582 for more information, to get involved, or to support Canadians affected by MS by making a donation.

Join the conversation and connect with the MS community online. Find the MS Society on Twitter, Instagram or like our page on Facebook.

About Brain Canada

Brain Canada is a national registered charity that enables and supports excellent, innovative, paradigm-changing brain research in Canada. Brain Canada’s vision is to understand the brain, in health and illness, to improve lives and achieve societal impact. For two decades, Brain Canada has made the case for the brain as a single, complex system with commonalities across the range of neurological disorders, mental illnesses and addictions, brain and spinal cord injuries. Looking at the brain as one system has underscored the need for increased collaboration across disciplines and institutions, and a smarter way to invest in brain research that is focused on outcomes that will benefit patients and families.

Brain Canada raises and leverages funds from a range of donors and partners, including individuals, corporations, foundations, research institutes, health charities, and provincial agencies. To date, Brain Canada and its supporters have invested $250 million in 300 research projects across the country.

To find out more, visit:

About Biogen

At Biogen, our mission is clear: we are pioneers in neuroscience. Biogen discovers, develops and delivers worldwide innovative therapies for people living with serious neurological and neurodegenerative diseases as well as related therapeutic adjacencies. One of the world’s first global biotechnology companies, Biogen was founded in 1978 by Charles Weissmann, Heinz Schaller, Kenneth Murray and Nobel Prize winners Walter Gilbert and Phillip Sharp, and today has the leading portfolio of medicines to treat multiple sclerosis, has introduced the first approved treatment for spinal muscular atrophy, and is focused on advancing neuroscience research programs in MS and neuroimmunology, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, movement disorders, neuromuscular disorders, acute neurology, neurocognitive disorders, pain, and ophthalmology. Biogen also commercializes biosimilars of advanced biologics.

We routinely post information that may be important to investors on our website at . To learn more, please visit and follow us on social media – Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube.

About Roche Canada

Founded in 1931, Roche Canada is committed to searching for better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases while making a sustainable contribution to society. The company employs more than 1,200 people across the country through its Pharmaceuticals division in Mississauga, Ontario and Diagnostics, as well as Diabetes Care divisions in Laval, Quebec.

Roche aims to improve patient access to medical innovations by working with all relevant stakeholders. Roche Canada is actively involved in local communities through its charitable giving and partnerships with organizations and healthcare institutions that work together to improve the quality of life of Canadians. For more information, please visit

About Government of Alberta, Economic Development, Trade and Tourism

Government of Alberta, Economic Development, Trade and Tourism leads economic development efforts, supports businesses and investors and promotes Alberta's tourism industry. For more information, please visit

Jennifer Asselin
MS Society of Canada
1-800-268-7582 ext. 3144

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