We are so excited to announce this year’s Palmer Award Recipient! Meet and help us to congratulate Briana Landis, an Institute graduate from Meredith College, whose vision is “to create a world free of Multiple Sclerosis.”
For those unfamiliar with the disease, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system. This attack on the brain and spinal cord disrupts signals to and from the brain. This interruption can create a variety of problems from numbness to blindness to paralysis.
Briana herself was diagnosed with MS when she was 4 years old and prior to participating in the Institute, she interned with the research lab DiscoveryMS. These experiences helped Briana to understand the need for funding to be directed towards MS research.
Through her experience at the Institute, Briana realized that, although she is young, she really can make a significant impact on what she cares about! She can be bold in her vision of a world free of Multiple Sclerosis. As she developed her vision further, Briana set a stretch goal to speak with local government officials about funding for MS on the state level as well as eventually speaking with Congress to demonstrate the need for funding on a national level.
Take a look at Briana’s progress!
- Shared her story at multiple events that were raising money for Multiple Sclerosis
- Was approached by the National MS Society and asked to go to Congress and speak on their behalf
- Researched which bills were connected to Multiple Sclerosis and met with the National MS Society to understand the issues more deeply
- Traveled to DC and spoke with members of Congress and the head of the MS Caucus
- Met with her local state representative and the Governor of North Carolina
While in DC speaking to members of Congress, Briana asked for support of the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act. This act would prohibit large pharmaceutical companies from having programs that limit access to generic drugs. Briana shared that, on average, a person living with MS will pay $2500.00 a month on medication. Getting the CREATES Act passed means more people will be able to afford the medications they need and enjoy a better quality of life as their symptoms are being treated.
There has been progress on the Neurological Conditions Surveillance System, another area that Briana spoke with legislators about. Although previously passed, no funding had been given. Funding has now been established and preliminary results shows there are more than one million people in the United States with Multiple Sclerosis. Earlier studies estimated that number to be only half of that. The census results demonstrate the need for resources to be allocated to those with the disease and for research.
Through her work with her local Representatives and Governor, Briana as advocated for more funding for North Carolina’s Affordable Housing initiative. The passing of this initiative benefits people with MS who have been homebound by providing them with easy-to assemble ramps for their homes. MS can limit one’s physical mobility, keeping them homebound. Those in this situation may not be able to attend doctor’s appointments, pick up prescriptions, run errands, or see friends and family – all activities important to one’s physical and mental health. These ramps can add so much value to those living with MS by helping them be more mobile and offering an increased level of independence and freedom.
Briana’s knows her work is not done yet! Even so, she shared that she is eager to one day say, “I used to have MS.”