Challenge Award grants are short-term innovative pilot studies to begin filling knowledge and infrastructure gaps. This ambitious programme will see a total of €22 million invested in progressive MS research.

The Alliance has identified a number of key areas of significant unmet need that must be overcome before new treatments for progressive MS can be developed, one of which is a clear understanding of the mechanisms that lead to progression.

This funding initiative is designed to accelerate research focused on the mechanisms underlying progressive MS through innovation and collaboration on research proposals that challenge current approaches used to investigate mechanisms of progressive MS.

Applications that include investigators from multiple institutions are strongly encouraged. The Alliance anticipates that this award will expedite the development of therapies for progressive MS.

2014 Challenge Grant round – now completed. 

In 2014 the International Progressive MS Alliance awarded their first Challenge Awards to encourage scientific collaboration and innovation, and Infrastructure Awards to promote data sharing and knowledge management.

The funding helped forge international collaborative research networks — leveraging research already underway and stimulating new research.

A total of 20 projects with researchers based in nine countries, were awarded grants with the goal of removing barriers to developing treatments for progressive MS. The projects focused on six areas: 

  • Clinical trials and outcome measures 
  • Biomarkers (measurable indicators) of progression 
  • Gene studies
  • Rehabilitation trials
  • New disease models 
  • Research to better understand the pathology of progression.

The 20 projects were chosen from 195 research proposals submitted by researchers in 22 countries. These were then reviewed by the Alliance’s 40-strong Scientific Review Committee.


The RFA 1 round of Challenge Grants resulted in 16 publications, many in high impact journals, and at least 14 posters or abstracts presented progress in different priority areas. 

The grants led directly to the creation of the global collaboration networks that are now working on the most promising projects to come out of the RFA 1 round of challenge grants.  

The initial investment of €225k resulted in an additional €11.5 million follow-on investment in the research produced.

On an organisational level, the grants established the global resolve to end progressive MS and improved donor confidence and catalysed influential networks of actors to focus on this pressing problem.

The 2020 Challenge Grant round of funding closed for applications in early 2020. 

Grant recipients will be announced soon.

The next round of Challenge Grants will be announced in 2021. 

More details will be announced, but the overall themes of the funding are expected to continue.