Colleen Hayes, a nationally-recognized MS researcher and UW-Madison professor of biochemistry, was inducted into the Volunteer Hall of Fame at the National Multiple Sclerosis Leadership Conference, November 8-10 in Dallas, Texas. She was inducted in the Scientific Researcher category.
For more than 25 years, Hayes has devoted a significant amount of time to studying nutrition and the immune system as well as laying the foundation for much of today’s research into the role of vitamin D in MS. She also has been involved as a research volunteer with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society-Wisconsin Chapter for more than 15 years, speaking about her research at Wisconsin Chapter programs and in National MS Society webcasts, “Conversations with MS Researchers: Vitamin D and Other Risk Factors in MS and MS Progression” and “From the Frontline: What’s New in MS Research for 2012.” As an expert in her field, Dr. Hayes has contributed her knowledge about vitamin D and MS in multiple books, and was lead author of a book chapter called “Vitamin D and Multiple Sclerosis” in the book “Vitamin D.”
In a letter to Hayes, Cyndi Zagieboylo, president and CEO of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, wrote, “I am awed and inspired by the extreme dedication and commitment that volunteers like you have demonstrated in our movement toward a world free of multiple sclerosis.”
Hayes has received more than $2 million in research grants from the National MS Society to study both the mechanisms by which vitamin D and MS interact, as well determining how vitamin D and its hormone derivative calcitriol may be used to treat and prevent MS. She has served on the scientific review committee for the National MS Society, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. She is currently on the integration panel for the Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program in MS, and is the co-chair for the International Taskforce for Vitamin D and MS Prevention.
“Dr. Hayes is a true leader. Her research has been instrumental in bringing the relationship between vitamin D and MS to the forefront of discussion and has led to better understanding of the role vitamin D plays in MS,” said Colleen G. Kalt, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Chapter, in nominating Dr. Hayes for the Volunteer Hall of Fame. “She promotes collaboration with her colleagues throughout the world and has taken on the leadership role of co-chairing an International Working Group that met to plan international MS prevention studies.
MS interrupts the flow of information from the brain to the body and stops people from moving. It is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with MS two to three times more common in women than men. One in 500 Wisconsin residents lives with MS, giving the state one of the highest incidence rates in the country. While the progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, advances in research and treatment are giving hope to those affected by the disease.
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