Rhonda Voskuhl, M.D., University of California, Los Angeles, to present keynote address at ACTRIMS Forum 2019

MADISON, Wis., November 27, 2018 – Multiple sclerosis is characterized by distinct disabilities including walking, cognition and vision. MS patients differ markedly from each other regarding which disability affects them initially and most severely. Dr. Rhonda Voskuhl, professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, will present her hypothesis that molecular mechanisms underlying each disability may differ from each other based on regional differences in neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes as the subject of the keynote Kenneth P. Johnson Memorial Lecture on the opening day of the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) Forum 2019.

Dr. Voskuhl’s team of researchers at UCLA determined gene expression in various regions within the central nervous system (CNS) in the MS preclinical model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Further, since whole tissue gene expression reflects alterations in cellular composition during disease, RiboTag technology was used to determine the transcriptome of specific cells within each CNS region to provide insights into molecular mechanisms. Thus, gene expression was determined in a cell-specific and region-specific manner during disease.

Regional differences in gene expression in astrocytes during disease were found.

“The work is proof of principle that a cell-specific and region-specific transcriptomics approach can reveal new therapeutic targets in distinct neuroanatomic regions during multifocal neurodegenerative disease. The ultimate goal is to develop disability-specific neuroprotective treatments optimized to repair each disability, one at a time. In practice, such treatments would be tailored for each MS patient based on their predominant disability, with additional disability-specific treatments added in combination over time, as needed,” says Voskuhl.

The late Kenneth P. Johnson, M.D., University of Maryland, led the effort to found ACTRIMS in 1995. The Memorial Lecture honors Johnson by providing an opportunity for ACTRIMS audiences to hear from prestigious clinicians or researchers selected for their knowledge, accomplishments and contributions related to MS.


ACTRIMS Forum brings together more than 1,000 researchers and clinicians annually to share developments in the rapidly changing field of MS. The 2019 Forum will be held Feb. 28-March 2, 2019, in Dallas, Texas. Themed “Precision Medicine Approaches for MS: Scientific Principles to Clinical Application,” this CME-accredited meeting stands apart from many traditional medical meetings by offering a single track of scientific and clinical presentations in an interactive environment. More information about ACTRIMS Forum 2019, and the Kenneth P. Johnson Memorial Lecture, appears on the event’s website. Follow the event at #ACTRIMS.


Founded in 1995, Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) is a community of leaders from the United States and Canada who are dedicated to the treatment and research in MS and other demyelinating diseases. ACTRIMS focuses on knowledge dissemination, education and collaboration among disciplines. ACTRIMS also provides a Forum for experienced and newer clinicians and researchers to exchange information, debate current issues and discuss advances related to basic research and clinical issues.