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The Multiple System Atrophy Coalition hosted its 32nd Multiple System Atrophy Annual Patient & Family Conference on Thursday, September 30th through Saturday, October 2nd, 2021. The conference began with remarks from Dr. Wolfgang Singer and Dr. Phillip Low from The Mayo Clinic on “Where Have We Come From, Where Are We Going” describing the progress that has been made in MSA research. Over 900 attendees from the U.S. and across the globe joined for sessions. This year’s host medical facility was the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and was sponsored by Biohaven Pharmaceuticals, Lundbeck, Theravance Biopharma, and Alterity Therapeutics.

Cyndi Roemer, Chair of the MSA Coalition had this to say about the conference: “As we continue to offer our long-standing annual conference remotely during these challenging times, we are very pleased that so many people were able to take advantage of our program to connect, learn, and inspire! It was great to interact with so many members of our community.”

This year, The MSA Coalition introduced two pre-conference elements providing even more opportunities for connection and learning. During MSA Coalition Week, September 20-24, the Board of Directors shared how the Coalition can provide support and education through on-demand videos. The week began with a presentation from Dr. Tom Chelimsky, Medical College of Wisconsin, MSA Coalition Board of Directors Emeritus, on “The MSA Journey or Who Lives in Your Village.” The week concluded with live support group discussions for patients and care partners across the globe. Community Partners Week, September 27-29, provided additional sources of support and education to the MSA Community with on-demand presentations and exhibitor booths. Our 2021 conference community partners were MSA New Jersey, MSA Belgium, Brain Support Network, the MSA Trust, CurePSP, Move Over MSA, and ARAMISE.

With a robust agenda prepared by the MSA Coalition conference committee, the conference consisted of many informative presentations from medical professionals and members of the MSA community. Some highlights from the conference included:

  • A presentation on diagnosing MSA by Dr. Gregor Wenning, Bishop Karl Golser Foundation & MSA Coalition Scientific Advisory Board Chair
  • A research panel with Dr. Daniel Claassen, Vanderbilt University, MSA Coalition Board of Directors, Medical Advisory Board Liaison, Dr. Vikram Khurana, Harvard University, MSA Coalition Board of Directors, Scientific Advisory Board Liaison, and Dr. Gal Bitan, UCLA
      • Dr. Gal Bitan was the 2021 Conference Keynote Speaker. During his portion of the research panel, Dr. Bitan gave an excellent non-technical explanation on the purpose and need for biomarkers and shared details of his MSA Coalition funded project to develop a blood test to distinguish MSA from Parkinson disease. Read more about his work here.
  • A medical panel on the value of multidisciplinary care teams with Dr. Elizabeth Coon and her team of medical professionals from the Mayo Clinic
  • An entire afternoon of presentations on “Living Better with MSA,” including sessions on music therapy, traveling with MSA, improvisation and laughter, and more.

Roemer continued, “We are grateful to everyone who contributed and supported this effort including the presenters, our community partners around the globe, volunteers, and sponsors. And most of all, thank you to our patients and care partners for putting your trust in us and participating in this conference. We look forward to the day when we can see you in person again and will continue to offer virtual education as well so that as many members of our worldwide community can benefit from our valued resources. The MSA Coalition continues to provide support to help you live each day to the fullest with love and hope.”