May 4, 2001
view or print this bulletin in its original format, click here
(requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
Summary: John W. Prineas, MB, BS, FRCP, Professor of Neurology in the Department of Medicine at the University of Sydney, Australia, has been awarded the National MS Society/American Academy of Neurology’s 2001 John Jay Dystel Prize for Multiple Sclerosis Research.
The Prize: The $7,500 Dystel prize is given jointly by the National MS Society and the American Academy of Neurology, and is funded through the Society’s John Dystel Multiple Sclerosis Research Fund. Society National Board of Directors member Oscar Dystel and his wife Marion established this fund in 1994 in honor of their son John Jay Dystel, an attorney whose promising career was cut short by progressive disability from MS. Previous winners of the Prize are Drs. Donald Paty (1995), Cedric Raine (1996), John Kurtzke (1997), Henry McFarland (1998), W. Ian McDonald (1999), and Kenneth Johnson (2000).
Biographical Sketch: John W. Prineas began his medical training at the University of Sydney, and then traveled to London where he began to specialize in neurology. He came to the United States in 1967 as a postdoctoral fellow of the National MS Society, where he was mentored by Labe Scheinberg, MD – a pioneer in the clinical care of MS – and the eminent neuropathologist, Robert Terry, MD, at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York. In 1974, he became a Professor in the Department of
Neurosciences at the University of Medicine and Dentistry-New Jersey Medical School, where he remained for 25 years. Dr. Prineas recently returned to Australia, where he is Professor of Neurology at the University of Sydney’s Institute of Clinical Neurosciences and Department of Medicine.
Dr. Prineas’s Contributions: Dr. Prineas, who is both a neurologist and a neuropathologist, defined the pathology of MS with research papers that are now standard references in the field. He has devoted his career to understanding and explaining what happens to the brain and spinal cord after MS has wrought its damage to myelin and other nervous system tissues.
Dr. Prineas was the first to describe – in the early 1980s – how brain and spinal cord myelin, the insulating material that speeds nerve signals, is destroyed in MS. He demonstrated that immune cells called macrophages engulf and absorb myelin. He also noted that immune proteins called antibodies participate in this breakdown of myelin.
In 1978, Dr. Prineas published a landmark paper showing evidence that myelin is repaired in MS lesions (damaged areas), and in 1993, demonstrated that this “remyelination” can normally occur, unless interrupted by disease activity. He showed that within a few weeks after the formation of a new lesion, the lesion is repopulated with new oligodendrocytes (myelin-making cells) and myelin can be repaired. Dr. Prineas was the first to demonstrate the ability of oligodendrocytes to regenerate in MS, and this work has stimulated many investigators to understand how this regeneration occurs and perhaps exploit this capability in the development of new therapies for MS.
The variety of symptoms experienced by people with MS is now believed to stem from variability in the disease pathology. Dr. Prineas was among the pioneers who directed our attention to this so-called “heterogeneity” in MS. Now, he sits on the advisory committee of the Society’s MS Lesion Project, an international collaboration that is exploring the variability of MS lesions and how it correlates with the variety of symptoms and MRI scans of people with MS. This project owes its existence in large measure to the groundbreaking work of Dr. Prineas and others. His diligent efforts to obtain brain tissue, and his meticulous analysis of such samples are held in the highest regard by colleagues around the world. These efforts have served as the framework for new and emerging concepts in MS neuropathology.
Dr. Prineas has authored over 100 papers, presentations and textbook chapters on the pathology of myelin. He has presented at numerous international scientific meetings and has participated in key advisory committees for many organizations, including the National MS Society and the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation, to further the field of MS research.
Dr. Prineas was selected from among many qualified nominees as the 2001 winner of the John Jay Dystel Prize for Multiple Sclerosis Research by a special joint committee of the National MS Society and the American Academy of Neurology. He will accept the prize on May 9, 2001 during the Academy’s annual meeting in Philadelphia, where he will deliver a platform presentation on his work in MS.
Dr. Prineas has devoted his research career to the field of MS, and it is due to his analysis of the MS lesion that the field is as advanced as it is on this subject. We are pleased to honor Dr. Prineas with the 2001 Dystel Prize.