ACT MS Symposium 2020

The ACT MS Symposium 2020 will focus on inflammation and brain health in multiple sclerosis. We have secured knowledgeable ANU and external speakers for panel discussions who can answer your most burning questions.

Join us live or watch each session on-demand at a later time if you cannot attend. Recordings will be made available below.

Download the flyer


Register for each day of the Symposium:

Day 1 - Brain inflammation and ageing

Monday 2 November | 10:30am - 11:30am

Speakers: Professor Nicolas Cherbuin and Dr Anne Bruestle

Watch the recording on YouTube >>


Day 2 - Gut health and diet

Tuesday 3 November | 10:30am - 11:30am

Speakers: Professor Helen Tremlett and Dr Lucinda Black

Watch the recording on YouTube >>


Day 3 - Exercise and vitamin D

Wednesday 4 November | 10:30am - 11:30am

Speakers: Gilly Davy and Professor Robyn Lucas

Watch the recording on YouTube >>


Day 4 - International Progressive MS Alliance and ACT MS Symposium Panel

Thursday 5 November | 10:30am - 11:30am

Speakers: Vanessa Fanning and ACT MS Symposium Panel:

Chair: Professor Christian Lueck | Our Health in Our Hands (OHIOH)
  • Dr Julia Morahan | Head of Research, MS Research Australia
  • Nicola McMahon | Committee Member, MSCEC ACT Region MS Community Engagement Committee
  • Dr Vanessa Fanning | International Progressive MS Alliance and MS International Federation’s people with MS Advisory Committee (PMSAC)
  • Jodi Haartsen | Executive Manager, Client Engagement and Wellbeing, MS Limited
  • Professor Nic Cherbuin | OHIOH
  • Dr Jo Lane | OHIOH

Watch the recording on YouTube >>

Download the slides on Uhthoff’s Phenomenon


Day 5 - Our Health in Our Hands (OHIOH) update

Friday 6 November | 10:30am - 11:30am

Speakers: Our Health in Our Hands (OHIOH) Team

Watch the recording on YouTube >>


Speaker Bios

Robyn LucasProfessor Robyn Lucas

Robyn is a medically trained epidemiologist and public health physician. She is recognised nationally and internationally for her research on environmental risk factors for multiple sclerosis, particularly in relation to past sun exposure and vitamin D. Lucas trained in medicine in Auckland, New Zealand and worked in clinical practice for 5 years before taking 20 years out of the workforce to raise children. She completed a PhD in 2005 on biological markers of stress in the context of socioeconomic inequity. During her PhD she led the assessment of the global burden of disease due to ultraviolet radiation for the World Health Organisation. She was the lead for health in the United Nations Environment Program Environmental Effects Assessment Panel advising on the health effects of depletion of stratospheric ozone from 2011-2018. Lucas is currently Head of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University, President of the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine, and member of the ACT MS Engagement Council.


Helen TremlettProfessor Helen Tremlett

Helen is the Canada Research Chair in Neuroepidemiology and Multiple Sclerosis and Professor at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada in the Faculty of Medicine, Division of Neurology and Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health. Dr Tremlett’s research program is funded through operating and foundation grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the MS Society of Canada, the MS Scientific Research Foundation, the US National MS Society, among others. Trained in pharmacoepidemiology and multiple sclerosis with a PhD from Cardiff University, UK. Heads the Tremlett Lab and the Epidemiology in MS research program with the vision of fostering excellence in multi-disciplinary clinical and epidemiological research to advance treatment-related knowledge and improve outcomes in those with MS. Ongoing research studies include: the MS prodrome, safety and effectiveness of the disease-modifying drugs for MS; pharmacogenomics; risk of MS in special populations; impact of comorbidities on MS outcomes; and the gut microbiome and MS. Over 190 peer-reviewed articles accessible via Pubmed. Team website. Email:


Nicolas CherbuinProfessor Nicolas Cherbuin

Nicolas is the Head of the Centre for Research on Ageing, Health and Wellbeing in the College of Health and Medicine at the Australian National University. He obtained his PhD in Psychology from ANU in 2006. He has since been the recipient of several research fellowships including an Alzheimer Australia fellowship, a NHMRC Early Career Fellowship and an ARC Future Fellowship. Prof Cherbuin leads the NeuroImaging and Brain Lab (NIMBL) and oversees the neuroimaging arm of a large longitudinal study of ageing, the PATH Through Life study, which surveys almost 7500 participants over a follow-up to 20 years. His research interests include investigating the risk and protective factors that contribute to premature ageing, cognitive decline and dementia across the adult lifespan, investigating the impact of chronic diseases and mental disorders on brain health, and in developing tools and interventions to decrease risk in the population.


Christian LueckProfessor Christian Lueck

Christian is Unit Director of the Department of Neurology at the Canberra Hospital. He is President of the Neuro-Ophthalmology Society of Australia. He has worked with many researchers at the ANU including Professor Ted Maddess, Dr. Anne Bruestle and A/Professor Hanna Suominen on various projects since he moved to Canberra in 2003. Professor Lueck trained in medicine at Cambridge University and St Thomas’ Hospital, London, UK. He trained in neurology at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London, UK before moving to Edinburgh, UK, as a consultant neurologist where he was also honorary senior lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. In 2003 he moved to Canberra where he has been Unit Director of the Department of Neurology for 17 years. He received a national award for excellence in university teaching from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council in 2010. He has published in many areas of neurology but has a strong clinical and researched interest in neuro-ophthalmology.

VanessaDr Vanessa Fanning

Vanessa was diagnosed with MS in 1998 having experienced symptoms starting some 20 years earlier. Vanessa was appointed to the International Progressive MS Alliance, a global Research collaboration, as an Ambassador and Implementation Planning Team Member in April 2019. Subsequently, in September 2020, she was appointed to the MS International Federation(MSIF) People with MS Advisory Committee (PMSAC). The MSIF comprises some 50 MS Organisations world-wide. Vanessa joined the ANU Our Health in our Hands MS Health Experience Team in October 2018. Vanessa’s involvement in the MS community includes membership of the MSL’s Community Engagement Council for the ACT and regional NSW; being the convenor of a meditation group and a peer support group and participating in fundraising for MS Research Australia (MSRA).


Anne BrustleDr Anne Brustle

Anne is a group leader in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Disease at The John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University in Canberra. Her work centres around the autoimmune aspects of multiple sclerosis (MS). Her group investigates key immune populations driving the pathogenesis of this devastating disease such as the Il-17 producing Th17 cells using different mouse models to understand the underlying biological principals. In collaboration with diverse industrial partners her group further evaluates potential new targets for conceptually novel MS treatments and deciphers their biological mechanisms in neuroinflammation. Dr Brüstle leads the MS arm of “Our Health in Our Hands” a large multidisciplinary project aiming to improve disease monitoring and treatment utilising personalised approaches. In 2018, she was named ACT Young Tall Poppy for her research efforts and engagement with the local MS community. Anne completed her PhD in Human Biology 2008 at the Institute of Medical Microbiology, Philipps-University in Marburg, Germany. After being a post doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto, Canada she was recruited to ANU in mid 2014.


Lucinda BlackDr Lucinda Black

Lucinda is a nutritional epidemiologist with a particular interest in vitamin D, diet, and risk of onset and progression of multiple sclerosis (MS). Lucinda completed a PhD (Nutritional Sciences) in 2012 at University College Cork, Ireland, investigating dietary vitamin D and population vitamin D deficiency. Lucinda is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the School of Public Health, Curtin University, where she is building a program of research in diet and MS with local, national and international collaborators. She is the recipient of two successive fellowships to support her research in diet and MS (2016-2018 MS Western Australia Postdoctoral Fellowship; 2019-2020 MS Research Australia Postdoctoral Fellowship) and she is a previous recipient of the MS Research Australia Young Investigator Award. She is currently investigating links between diet and MS onset and disease progression using data from an Australian study following more than 200 people with MS from onset to 15 years post-diagnosis.


Gilly DavyGilly Davy

Gilly is the founder and director of the MS Get a Head Start, a consulting neurological physiotherapist and clinical director of Connect Neuro Physiotherapy based in New Zealand. Gilly is passionate about the changing world of physical rehabilitation and exercise for Multiple Sclerosis. The innovative MS Get a Head Start Program has been a brain child of Gilly’s since 2012. Gilly graduated in the UK in 2004, working in the UK, Australia and New Zealand she and has worked in both public and private practice. Gilly was awarded the Australian Physiotherapy Association Ipsen special commendation for Achievement in Neurological Physiotherapy in 2015. In 2016 she was then awarded a Honorary Clinical Fellowship for the Australian Catholic University.


Jo LaneDr Jo Lane

Jo is a research fellow and clinical and cognitive psychologist at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Research School of Population Health, at the Australian National University. She was awarded a Doctorate of Philosophy (Clinical Psychology) in 2018 from the Australian National University and has been a practicing psychologist since 2016 specialising in treating post-traumatic stress disorder in first responders and veterans. Her PhD work focused on improving face perception, social interactions and quality of life in people living with age-related macular degeneration. Since January 2019, Dr Lane has been working with a multidisciplinary team of researchers across the Australian National University on the Our Health in Our Hands Project that aims to transform healthcare by developing new personalised health technologies and solutions in collaboration with people living with multiple sclerosis (MS), clinicians and health care providers. Developing her career as a researcher in multiple sclerosis, Dr Lane’s interests intersect across psychology, epidemiology, translational research and personalised medicine in MS.


ACT MS Symposium 2020 Organising Committee

Professor Christian Lueck | ACT MS Symposium Panel Chair
Professor Robyn Lucas | Presenter
Professor Nic Cherbuin | Presenter
Dr Anne Bruestle | Presenter and Our Health in Our Hands (OHIOH) Update Chair
Dr Jo Lane | Presenter and Session Facilitator
Tobias James | Communications