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UT Houston Student Receives MS Research Scholarship


Country Music Artist Clay Walker’s Band Against MSSM underwrites award

HOUSTON—(June 2008)—Through the Foundation of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers, country music star Clay Walker’s Band Against MSSM (BAMS) Foundation has awarded a 2008 Summer Research Scholarship to Stephanie Tran, who just completed her first year at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston.

With the $5,000 scholarship, Tran will work with Jerry Wolinsky, M.D., Bartels Family and Opal C. Rankin Professor of Neurology at the medical school, on a new imaging technique that might help diagnose multiple sclerosis sooner by looking for lesions on gray matter in the brain.

“The Band Against MSSM Foundation Summer Research Scholarship award to Stephanie Tran reflects the forward-thinking philanthropy of Clay Walker in his work against multiple sclerosis,” Wolinsky said. “Clay recognizes that while great strides have been made in the management of the disease, very essential pieces of the puzzle remain unsolved and must fall into place before truly effective therapy will be found. One of the best ways to assure that such work continues well into the future is to attract bright, young people to do research in this area at formative stages of their careers.”

Wolinsky delivered the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers/Americas Committee for Treatment and Research Lecture, “MRI and Our Understanding of MS,” to 1,400 participants at the recent Plenary Session of the 22nd CMSC Annual Meeting in Denver. Walker performed at the closing farewell session of the group of assembled North American multiple sclerosis professionals.

Walker, recently named the 2008 Artist Humanitarian of the Year by the Country Radio Broadcasters, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1996 and founded BAMS in 2003 to create awareness and funding for the disease. More than 400,000 Americans are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system.

Since 2004, BAMS ( has given $350,000 for multiple sclerosis research at UT Houston. Walker will host the inaugural Clay Walker Charity Classic Golf Tournament June 30-July 2 at Pebble Beach Resort in California and has asked Wolinsky to speak at the event.

Tran, who graduated from Clear Lake High School and received a bachelor’s degree in human biology from The University of Texas at Austin, is excited to begin her first research project.

“I think multiple sclerosis research is an interesting field because the disease affects people at a young age and continues to impact their lives,” Tran said.

“What better way to continue groundbreaking research than to help foster young students at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston,” said Wolinsky, director of the Multiple Sclerosis Research Group and Magnetic Resonance Imaging Analysis Center at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. “We hope that this will be the first of many summer students supported by Clay and his Band Against MSSM Foundation, and we are grateful for his continued interest and support of our efforts in multiple sclerosis research here at UT Houston.”


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