Harris to lead pediatric multiple sclerosis research

UAB School of Nursing professor receives grant to help children with MS improve their cognitive skills.

Written by: Jimmy Creed

Media contact: Holly Gainer, hgainer@uab.edu

yolanda harris streamAn instructor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Nursing is part of a national effort to help children with multiple sclerosis improve their cognitive abilities.

Yolanda Harris, MSN, has been named UAB’s principal investigator of a study that looks at how MS impacts decision-making in children. Harris will lead the research at the UAB Center for Pediatric Onset Demyelinating Disease at Children’s Hospital.

“This study is the first of its kind, looking at how pediatric-onset MS affects cognition in children,” Harris said. “The goal is to identify what may be the challenges for these children and use that information to develop interventions to help improve their cognitive skills as they grow older.”

The Cognition and Neurodevelopmental Influence, CANDI, study will examine children with MS between the ages of 10 and 16. Using several different cognitive tests to study processing speed, the rate at which a person processes information from start to finish, Harris wants to develop a better understanding of cognitive decline and evaluations that could provide key insights for the future.

“We want to learn all we can so we can help these children be productive members of society as they move forward,” Harris said.

She received a grant of $56,695 from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Network of Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Centers.

UAB is one of 12 core clinical centers in the United States to participate in the study.

Harris earned her Master of Science degree in nursing from UAB’s School of Nursing in 2006.