Scope 36 - Restoring balance to the lives of MS sufferers

01 June 2008

Modestly describing herself as a "jack of all trades, master of none", Dr Elizabeth Forbes' larger than life personality is matched only by her unwavering enthusiasm and drive to improve the lives of those affected by the debilitating autoimmune disease Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

After completing her undergraduate degree at Victoria University, Dr Forbes began her PhD in gastrointestinal allergy and inflammation at the John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.  During her PhD Dr Forbes was awarded a Fulbright scholarship, which allowed her to finish her studies at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, USA.  As the recipient of such a prestigious award, Dr Forbes was bonded back to New Zealand on completion of her PhD, and the Malaghan Institute Multiple Sclerosis Group, led by Associate Professor Thomas Bäckström, provided the ideal opportunity in which to further her research career.

Affecting one in every 1,100New Zealanders, there is no known cure for MS. In a healthy individual, the immune system maintains a balance between triggering an inflammatory response and an equilibrium maintained by cells that regulate it. In MS, this balance is disrupted.

The therapeutic goal of Dr Forbes' research is to re-establish this immune equilibrium in individuals suffering from MS - to restore the balance.