A new National Training Program for the Comprehensive Care of Individuals With Multiple Sclerosis will be created at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, in collaboration with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, will bring neurologists from across the country to the Dallas campus for specific training in treating patients with multiple sclerosis. Ultimately, similar programs would be established at major academic medical centers throughout the nation. The program is funded for one year at $900,000, and funding for future years is yet to be determined.

Patients will be the main beneficiaries of the program, according to Elliot Frohman MD, head of UT Southwestern's MS program.

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-Texas, sponsored the legislation, which became part of the appropriations bill passed by Congress.

``This program will directly translate to better care for people with MS,'' said Frohman, who will direct the new training program at UT Southwestern. ``An MS patient has many different health issues, including bone loss, urological issues and depression, as well as treatment for MS progression. Having a doctor well-versed in all those issues can really make an impact on the patient's life.''

MS is the most common disabling neurological disorder of young people and affects approximately 350,000 Americans, most between the ages of 20 and 40.

The UT Southwestern program would enable neurologists to earn continuing medical education credits for completing the MS preceptorship. Neurologists participating in the week-long program would observe patient and doctor interaction, work through various treatment scenarios and take assessment exams before completing the course.

``Multiple sclerosis patients often see their neurologists more than they do their family physicians,'' Frohman said. ``Neurologists need to be prepared to treat the whole patient. Ultimately, this could lead to cost savings if one physician can provide total care for the MS patient.''

At the UT Southwestern MS program, patients have access to wide-ranging treatments and cutting-edge clinical trials. Frohman, an assistant professor of neurology and ophthalmology, sees that model of care expanded to other metropolitan centers.

``We want to raise the bar of excellence for treatment of MS patients,'' he said.