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Challenging the commonplaces: Weyman Johnson's bold, unscripted talk on the heterogeneity of multiple sclerosis and the need for cutting edge research to address all aspects of MS engaged every one of the thousand people who attended the 2006 National Conference. He left the stage to a standing ovation. Below is an excerpt.

"I do not want to talk with you today so much as the chairman of the National Board of the Society, but more as a man who has MS. I'm wearing my 'other hat' today....

"This organization has always challenged the commonplaces about MS. For example, in the 60s my father developed MS. His sister, my aunt, already had the disease. And the doctors told us that this was coincidence. By the time I was involved with the Society we had begun to fund research into genetics. We have put millions into genetics research and continue to do so.

"I remember being told that MS doesn't affect African-Americans. I've met the brilliant doctor, Mary Hughes, and have heard the story of her family, and I know that the genetics research funded by the Society is helping put the lie to that commonplace as well.

"We also heard that MS does not happen to children. But thousands of children around the world are affected by MS. We are putting millions of dollars into finding out why.

"Another commonplace we're challenging is that nerve tissue cannot be repaired. There are now signals coming in from research, some of which involve stem cells, that nerve tissue can be repaired. And that suggests that we may be able to do something for people with severe progressive multiple sclerosis.

"We have to infuse the anti-MS movement with hope. Not that a cure will happen today, but that it will happen, that soon there will be no more multiple sclerosis and no more National MS Society."

Weyman Johnson, Chairman, National Board of Directors
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Author:Johnson, Weyman
Publication:Inside MS
Article Type:Excerpt
Date:Dec 1, 2006
Words:267
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