Kiss Goodbye to Multiple Sclerosis (MS) : Searching For A Cure

In this segment, MS Research Australia’s CEO Dr. Matthew Miles joins the program to promote the global campaign “Kiss Goodbye to MS.” It’s a national initiative by MS Research Australia focused on raising critical funds for Australian MS research. He talks about the importance of raising funds for MS research due to the fact there is still no cure for it yet. He also discusses about his genuine desire to help those with this condition.

Dr. Matthew Miles is the Chief Executive Officer of MS Research Australia, reporting to the Board of Directors. He has extensive leadership, executive management, media, finance, marketing, operations, sponsorship and fundraising experience. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Managers and a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He has a post graduate Master’s (MBA) degree from the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) at UNSW. Matthew has a Bachelor of Veterinary Science undergraduate degree from the University of Queensland, and has significant experience in different areas of medical and veterinary research as well as education at tertiary level. Prior to joining MS Research Australia, Matthew was at UNSW Australia as the inaugural Director of the Office of Development and External Relations overseeing a wide portfolio. He was the recipient of a Commonwealth Government “Inspiring Australia” award in 2010 as well as a “NSW State Government Science Discovery” award. In 2010, he received the prestigious award for Outstanding Contribution to UNSW Medicine and was twice shortlisted for the University Award (2010, 2012). In 2013, he was bestowed with honorary alumnus status to UNSW Medicine. In 2015, he was awarded the coveted Harvard Club of Australia Fellowship, attending Harvard University as a not-for-profit Fellow. Matthew is a Board Director of the MS International Federation (MSIF) and an Executive Committee member of the Global Progressive MS Alliance.

-TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW-

Tabetha Moreto: Hello everyone. Welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host for today, Tabetha Moreto. Our guest today is Dr. Matthew Miles, CEO of MS Research Australia. Today, we’re going to talk about Kiss Goodbye to MS, an internationally recognized initiative to raise vital funds for MS which runs for the month of May. Without further ado, welcome to the show, Matthew. It’s so nice to have you here.

Matthew Miles: Thank you very much. It’s wonderful to be able to speak to you today.

T: My pleasure. So, Matthew please tell the audience more about yourself.

M: Sure. My name is Matthew Miles. I’m the CEO of MS Research Australia. I’ve had a fairly long amount of experience in the medical field. I’ve come from the University of New South Wales in medicine there where I was director of development in external relations. I’ve also done a fair bit of postgraduate study. I have a postgraduate masters as well as I’m a Bachelor of Veterinary Science. I used to be a veterinary clinician and worked in Australia, the UK, Singapore and America. So a fairly varied I guess professional experience but also been touched by medical research and medical diseases. My father was quite heavily disabled when he had cardiovascular disease which struck him down very early in life. I guess from that has always had a great interest in health and medical research in general.

T: Wow. It sounds like you had a very fascinating career.

M: Yes. I think it’s been quite varied. People often ask how did I make the transition from veterinary science into more medical research medicine based issue. It was really quite easy and I think that really understanding the basic concepts of medicine certainly helps and then my work at the university really helped me to understand the health sector, the health professional sector research and the funding of medical research. It was quite an easy transition from clinician suit to what I am now.

T: Wonderful. Now, tell us about this interesting program that you have called Kiss Goodbye to MS.

M: Sure. We founded Kiss Goodbye to MS a couple of years ago here in Australia and it’s fairly innovative social media based fundraising platform where people can fundraise for MS research and we call it DIY fundraising. So it means that you can do whatever you like to raise money and get your friends and get others on board raising money for multiple sclerosis research and it’s a dedicated platform to raise money for MS research given that it’s social media-based, it’s a very very low cost platform. So when you do raise money, the majority of the money raised goes directly to the source, directly to the mission and that is to find cures and better treatments, prevention for multiple sclerosis. So it’s quite innovative. It’s low cost high impact platform and in fact the whole Australian Kiss Goodbye to MS platform is overseen by just one staff member. Then a couple of years ago we were approached by our global colleagues to roll the campaign out in other countries and there’s been outstanding success in Kiss Goodbye to MS global now in 15 countries throughout the world. We’re just really thrilled to have an Aussie founded campaign doing so well overseas running raising money in countries from US to Lebanon to Egypt to France and just great to see the world come together as one with the same sort of values and the same needs to try and raise money for MS research and being able to capture the hearts and minds particularly of younger people with MS and that sort of 20 to 45 year age range. There’s been I guess a demographic which many organizations haven’t been able to get involved with them when they’ve been trying to look to ways to cure multiple sclerosis.

T: Fantastic. It’s good to know that a program like this is able to educate people about MS.

M: It’s really important that the person who is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis now and in the future has access to good accurate educated information. It’s a very very complex disease. There’s a lot of complexity and as you could probably be aware there’s a lot of different information blogs and doctor Google is quite significant when it comes to MS. There’s a lot of different theories. Many of those theories are based on very little science. So people look to MS research Australia and Kiss Goodbye to MS particularly provide that evidence-based information on know what is real in terms of MS research, what is knowing, what is proven, what is not yet proven, what is unproven and to be able to sort of give them a bit of a guide so they can see the wood for the trees which is critical and that’s very very important for a young person diagnosed with MS. Keeping in mind that that’s often a younger female person and they need to have access to the information. MS takes away your control in many ways. Being educated and access to correct and accurate information does help to bring back some of that control.

T: That’s wonderful to hear. Now if you don’t mind, Matthew, can I ask you a personal question?

M: Sure.

T: Why are you so passionate about helping those with this particular condition?

M: I think there’s two reasons. One is I just truly believe in the power of medical research. I truly believe that medical research can change the world. I think there’s numerous examples, I could go on for hours about giving you examples of where that’s happened. I’m sure many of your listeners would know many of those already but you just don’t see that very often in many other professions where you can categorically say you’ve played a part, even a small part in something which has changed the world for people who need the help the most. The second reason is the one I touched on I think is that I think when you’ve been touched with someone who’s been sick in your own family or someone who’s struggled with disability or in my case with my father for cardiovascular disease then I think it just hit time a little bit if you just understand the difficulties, the challenges that that person goes through every day whether it’s just sort of getting down on the floor to play with their son or whether it’s having a shower or whether it’s trying to get down the pavement from where the bus dropped you off after rehabilitation. All these sort of things people don’t naturally see unless it’s been part of your family, part of your growing up. So I think they’re the two major reasons why I feel very passionate about what I do

T: Thank you so much, Matthew. I would love to talk to you more but we’re running out of time. But before we go, Matthew, what is your main takeaway message to all of our listeners out there?

M: I think one thing that I’d like to get everyone to know that sometimes the perception out there that charities that are raising money for medical research or trying to find cures for many diseases get substantial government funding and that’s just not the case in serving up the case with MS and MS research strata. We receive over 90% of our funding philanthropically. We have a very low amount of funding that comes from the government. So without philanthropy, without donations, without the support of the general public and health professionals and doctors and nurses and those interested in MS. We couldn’t fund the amount of research that we do with the largest funder of multiple sclerosis research in Australia and in many cases over the last couple of years have funded more in dollar terms than the NHMRC and that doesn’t happen without the support of the community, without the support of the Health Network. I think that’s probably one of the biggest misconceptions out there is that a feeling that somehow charities are well funded through government means which is in my experience rarely the case.

T: That was a wonderful message and lastly for those who want to get in touch with you, how can they do that?

M: I think there are two major ways. Obviously through our website www.msaustralia.org.au and our fundraising platform that we talked about is through kissgoodbyetoms.org. So that’s Kiss Goodbye to MS in Australia and there’s information on how to contact us in both those website, phone, email, Facebook, Twitter or all the socials. There are plenty ways to contact us.

T: Excellent. Thank you so much, Matthew for coming on the show. It was wonderful having you.

M: Thank you very much.

T: And that was MS Research Australia CEO Dr. Matthew Miles. If you liked this interview, transcripts and archives are available at www.hpr.fm. We’re on all social media platforms. So don’t forget to follow like and subscribe. Show us some love by subscribing to our HPR YouTube channel. We’re also available for download on soundcloud and iTunes. I’m Tabetha Moreto and you’re listening to Health Professional Radio.

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