The Multiple Sclerosis program involves clinical activities at the RMH and basic laboratory activities at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health.

Professor Trevor Kilpatrick heads the program, and the Multiple Sclerosis Centre involving the RMH, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health and the Centre for Neuroscience at The University of Melbourne.

Professor John King heads the MS Clinical Trials Program at the RMH. The MS Program is supported by grants from NHMRC, the National MS Society of the USA and Multiple Sclerosis Australia. Associate Professor Helmut Butzkeuven is the Director of the MS Base Foundation.

Clinical activities

  • Care of multiple sclerosis patients
  • Clinical trials

Recent clinical initiatives

A dedicated MS Outpatient Clinic has been established. This clinic is run in conjunction with MS Victoria. It provides a multidisciplinary approach through physiotherapy and bladder care management in addition to medical review. The management of patients in this clinic has been streamlined with the inauguration of a computerised database program supervised by Associate Professor Helmut Butzkueven.

An important initiative has been the implementation of an electronic database to record the clinical status of all patients on an ongoing basis, and therefore provide a more efficient appraisal of progress and response to therapeutic intervention.

Clinical staff

Head, Multiple Sclerosis Unit - Professor Trevor Kilpatrick
MS Clinical Trials Program RMH - Professor John King

Research activities

The program has a major commitment to the conduct of randomised clinical trials of new medication for multiple sclerosis (MS). This activity allows patients access to the latest advances in therapy and keeps medical and nursing staff up to date with current trends. The trials also have an MRI component that strengthens links with the neuroradiologists within The Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Current research projects

  • Associate Professor Helmut Butzkueven is the director of MS Base, an independent database/platform designed to facilitate the capacity to undertake clinical research on a collaborative basis.
  • Dr Olga Skibina, an MD student, is studying how the expression of genes is altered in patients with their first presentation of MS.
  • In collaboration with the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, the program has identified that a measure of brain size known as the intercaudiate distance, which can be performed on routine MRI, is a useful marker of brain atrophy that should improve the capacity to measure disease progression in the clinical setting.
  • From an analysis of patients, the program has identified two regions of the genome that in all probability contain important susceptibility genes for MS.
  • Research fellow Dr Mark Marriott has been studying the influence that a gene known to alter iron metabolism might have on the severity of MS.