Our Center is proud to have been very active in research associated with MS and related disorders. While much has been accomplished in recent years, many questions related to the etiology and treatment of MS remain. New methods to better preserve nervous system integrity by preventing MS attacks and nervous system degeneration and resulting disability progression are essential. 

With our research and clinical expertise, it is our hope that MS and related disorders will be controlled, disability greatly improved, and ultimately MS prevented. Until then, our aim is to discover the best ways to diagnose and treat MS and its variants, lessen disability, and improve overall quality of life.

We strive to advance the understanding of MS and its causes, investigate therapies to prevent exacerbations or disease progression, improve the function of those who have experienced MS-related disability, and improve the quality of life the people with MS experience.

Research Participation

Over the past 20 years, our center has been involved in over 20 MS research trials. We have also participated in other non-drug related investigations and reports including studies of gastrointestinal and urological (bladder) dysfunction in MS, and explored issues in bariatric surgery for people with MS. Patients may be offered the opportunity to participate in studies ranging from symptomatic research to pharmaceutical clinical trials. Our practice participated in the phase 3 (final phase) research trials for the oral pills fingolimod (Gilenya) and dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera) both of which received FDA approval.

Research Registry

We have a Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders Research Registry for patients to contribute to MS research. Involvement in this registry may allow quicker, easier identification of people who are most appropriate for MS-related research. This registry is supported in part by the Ethel Vincent Charitable Trust, which also funds other research of MS every year right here at UPMC.

Current Studies

  • The PROMOTE Study: We are currently enrolling participants in a long-term observational research study to understand how individuals with MS and related disorders differ from one another. Specifically, we want to investigate the factors that influence individual variations in disease course and treatment response among people with multiple sclerosis. Participants can have an established diagnosis of MS, a first central nervous system demyelinating episode with a positive MRI scan, or abnormal MRI scans characteristic of MS but no clinical symptoms of the disease. We are also enrolling control participants who can be cohabitants (sharing the same living environment but not related), family members, or general population. Those interested should contact the study team via email at or telephone at (412) 254-4883. For additional information, please see Dr. Xia's website.

We anticipate other studies soon and greatly appreciate the people with MS who have already participated in research at our center.

Learn about existing or upcoming research studies in MS via, which includes a searchable registry of research studies around the world.