Annual RIMS Conference: 20-22 June 2019, Ljubljana
Prof. Mario Alberto Battaglia (Italian MS Society, Italy)

Born in Genoa, Italy, 1954
Degree in Medicine and Surgery
Full Professor of Hygiene and Public Health, University of Siena (2002-present)
Chairman, Italian Multiple Sclerosis Society (1986 - 2007)
Chairman, Italian Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (1998 - present)
Member MSIF Board (1989 – present)
Chairman, Individual and Family Services Committee, Multiple Sclerosis International Federation Societies (1989-1993)
Member International Medical & Scientific Board, MSIF (1994 - present)
President, European MS Platform (1996 - 1998)
Founder, Rehabilitation for Multiple Sclerosis (R.I.M.S.)
He joined the Italian Multiple Sclerosis Society in 1975 and always advocated the Italian Society be strategically involved in the international MS movement.

Prof. Marco Bove (University of Genoa, Italy)

Marco Bove was born in 1966 and obtained his PhD in Bioengineering in 1995. He is Associate Professor of Human Physiology and head of the laboratory for the study of the sensorimotor integration in humans at the Department of Experimental Medicine (DIMES), section of Human Physiology, University of Genoa, Italy. He has been visiting Professor of Human Neurophysiology at the UFR STAPS, University of Borgogne, Dijon, France (2009 -2011). Since 2014, he has been co-head with Dr. Giampaolo Brichetto of the FISM-DIMES Joint Lab, which has the goal to carry out translational activity research in the field of adapted physical activity and motor and cognitive rehabilitation in multiple sclerosis. Since 2015, he has been the coordinator of the Movement and Sport Sciences Program at the University of Genoa. He teaches courses of Human Physiology and Neurophysiology offered to students of Medicine, Movement and Sport Sciences and Biomedical Engineering curricula of the University of Genoa.

His research focus is on basic and applied neurophysiology, with specific interest in sensorimotor integration, in the organization of the descending control of spinal reflexes, in the postural control and voluntary movements. Such investigations employ various techniques (electrophysiology, transcranial magnetic stimulation, movement analysis, neuroimaging) and involve both healthy subjects and subjects with multiple sclerosis. Prof. Bove is author of 116 peer-reviewed papers published in international journals. He has a national patent concerning an MR-compatible prototype for measuring the kinematics properties of finger opposition movements.

He is referee for The Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Neurophysiology, Human Brain Mapping, Neuroimage, Cerebral Cortex, Neuropsychologia, PLOS ONE, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, Clinical Neurophysiology, Social Neuroscience, Experimental Brain Research, Neuroscience Letters, Human Movement Science, European Journal of Applied Physiology. 


Prof. Diego Centonze (Tor Vergata University, Italy)

Diego Centonze is Full Professor of Neurology at the Department of Systems Medicine of the University of Rome Tor Vergata and Director of the Unit of Neurology and Neurorehabilitation at the IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo Neuromed, Pozzilli (IS), Italy. He also leads the Synaptic Immunopathology Laboratory at Tor Vergata University. His major clinical interest involves the evaluation of new drugs for the treatment of MS. His research interests are related to the role of synaptic transmission and plasticity in the pathophysiology of Multiple Sclerosis and of its experimental model, and to the mechanisms of the neurodegenerative damage in neurological diseases. Prof. He is Principal Investigator of many phase II, III and IV national and international trials with new therapeutic agents for MS and member of advisory boards of Pharmaceutical Industries for treatment optimization in Multiple Sclerosis. Member of the Society for Neuroscience (SfN), of the Italian Neurological Society (SIN), of the Italian Neuroscience Society (SINS), of the Italian Neuroimmunonology Association (AINI) Council, of the Medical Academy of Rome, of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS). Prof. Centonze is author of around 360 peer-reviewed papers published in international journals of Neuroscience, Neurology and Psychiatry.


Prof. Vincent de Groot (VUMC Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Vincent de Groot was born in 1971 and obtained his MD degree in 1996. Subsequently, he entered the rehabilitation medicine residency programme, which he combined with his PhD training. In 2004 he started working as a rehabilitation physician at VU University Medical Center Amsterdam. In 2007 he successfully defended his PhD thesis ‘Outcome measurement and functional prognosis in early multiple sclerosis’. Since September 2014 he has been professor of rehabilitation medicine and chair of the department of rehabilitation medicine at VU University Medical Center Amsterdam. His clinical and research focus is on neurorehabilitation, in particular multiple sclerosis, gait analysis, orthotics of the lower limb and spasticity treatment. He is also deputy instructor of the rehabilitation medicine residency programme and member of the executive board of RIMS (Rehabilitation In Multiple Sclerosis).


Prof. John DeLuca (Kessler Foundation, United States)

John DeLuca, PhD, is the Senior Vice President for Research and Training at Kessler Foundation, a Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, and the Department of Neurology at Rutgers, New Jersey Medical School. He is board certified in Rehabilitation Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology. Dr. DeLuca has been involved in neuropsychology and rehabilitation research for over 25 years. He is internationally known for his research on disorders of memory and information processing in a variety of clinical populations including: multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Dr. DeLuca has published over 325 articles, books and book chapters in these areas, has edited 5 books in neuropsychology, neuroimaging and rehabilitation, and is a co-editor for the “Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology.” He has received over 35 million dollars in grant support for his research.Dr. DeLuca's most recent research ventures include the cerebral mapping of human cognitive processes using functional neuroimaging, as well as the development of research-based techniques to improve cognitive impairment. He serves on the editorial boards of many journals and has received numerous awards in recognition of his work.

Dr. Melissa Desmedt (University of Hasselt, Belgium)
Melissa obtained a master’s degree in Healthcare Management and Policy Sciences at Gent University (Belgium). Her master thesis was a systematic review on the economic impact of integrated care models for patients with chronic diseases. It accounts for being a stimulans to conduct scientific research with great value for the healthcare sector. This ambition resulted in a PhD in Biomedical Sciences at Hasselt University where Melissa is still affiliated with the research group Patient Safety. Melissa has a great interest in supporting primary care organizations in their organizational (re)design or the implementation of quality improvement strategies. She also facilitated (first in Belgium) a large-scale patient safety culture measurement in primary healthcare and she has experience in measuring patient experiences. Melissa was also part of the CORTEXS research project (Care Organization: a Re-Thinking EXpedition in search for Sustainability). The multidisciplinary research team focuses on the fundamental challenge which many care systems face: how to organize care integration? The CORTEXS team developed a social system)based approach for redesigning care systems, resulting in a comprehensive framework of redesign principles, contextual preconditions, and care system performances.

Prof. Peter Feys (University of Hasselt, Belgium)

Peter Feys (PhD KULeuven, 2004) is professor in Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy at Hasselt University, and dean of the faculty of Rehabilitation Sciences. He is member of inter-university steering committees on master programs in rehabilitation sciences and physiotherapy in Flanders as well as in occupational therapy. Peter Feys is responsible for education of courses in neurological rehabilitation in a 3 years Bac and 2 years Ma educational program of Rehabilitation sciences and Physiotherapy, and a course in the master Occupational Therapy. Besides, courses include technology-supported rehabilitation and ‘Health systems organization, policy and ethics’. Before working at UHasselt, he was clinical physiotherapist in Bürgerspital Solothurn (CH), University Hospitals Leuven and the National MS Center Melsbroek (Belgium).

Peter Feys has been president of RIMS (2011-17), after having served as chair of the special interest group on mobility (2008-11) and secretary in the executive board (2008-11).

Peter Feys is an editorial board member of ‘Multiple Sclerosis Journal’ and ‘Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair’.Previously, he was formal member of the Italian MS Society review board and served as management committee member in the COST action TD1006 (EuropeanNetwork on Robotics for NeuroRehabilitation, 2011-15) and is substitute management committee member of COST action CA16116 entitle ‘Wearable robots for augmentation, assistance or substitution of human motor functions’.Nationally, Peter Feys is member of the FWO (Flemish fund for science) expert panel MED 8 on ‘Health’ since 2018. In addition, he is secretary of ‘Move to Sport’ ( and member of the Flemish MS Support fund.

Mrs. Christine Merkel (The Health Policy Partnership, United Kingdom)

Christine Merkel is a Senior Researcher at The Health Policy Partnership (HPP). She is partnering with the European Brain Council (EBC) to develop a policy consensus around practical and sustainable policy responses to MS at both the European and national levels. Taking a holistic view of healthcare and social services, she is working to identify best practice and national priorities across Europe, with a particular focus on a timely diagnosis, personalised treatment, interdisciplinary approaches to care and participation in daily life.

Christine holds a Master’s in Global Health and Development from University College London, and a BSc in Biochemistry from the University of St Andrews. In her time at The Health Policy Partnership, she has conducted research and led projects in many areas including heart failure, atrial fibrillation, childhood epilepsy, thyroid disorders and rare cancers.


Dr. Karen Minassian (Medical University of Vienna, Austria)

Karen Minassian is a pioneer of the recent advances in epidural spinal cord stimulation (SCS) in individuals with spinal cord injury. His main interest is the understanding of the neural control of movement with a focus on the human spinal cord locomotor circuits. With a background in physics and mathematics, he first used computer simulations to identify the neuronal structures that are electrically activated by epidural SCS. He then extended his approach by using neurophysiological methods and unraveled some of the mechanism underlying the generation of movement in otherwise paralyzed legs under epidural stimulation. His research has paved the way for the recent high profile studies of epidural stimulation. In parallel, he developed transcutaneous SCS, a non-invasive method that can be used as a neuromodulation tool as well as for human neurophysiological studies, a method that has been meanwhile adopted by several groups internationally. From 2016 to 2018 he supervised the research team of Prof. Grégoire Courtine at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), employing next-generation implantable SCS technologies in spinal cord injured individuals. At the Medical University of Vienna, he is currently planning novel approaches to delineate the intrinsic anatomical and physiological properties of the human locomotor networks.


Prof. Massimiliano Pau (University of Cagliari, Italy)

Massimiliano Pau is Professor of Mechanical Bioengineering and Head of the "Biomechanics and Industrial Ergonomics" laboratory at the University of Cagliari, Italy. His research activities are mainly focussed on the application of quantitative techniques for human movement analysis in clinical and ergonomic fields. He actively collaborates with the Sardinian Center for Diagnosis and Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis, which is one of the largest specialized center for MS in Italy, by providing technical support to neurologists and physical therapists for gait, balance and mobility assessments.


Mr. George Pepper (Shift MS, United Kingdom)
George Pepper is the co-founder and CEO of – the social network for people with  MS. Founded by MSers, for MSers, the charity supports many thousands of recently  diagnosed people across the world as they make sense of MS. It’s independent and it’s  free.​ launched in 2009 following George’s own experience of coming to terms  with MS. Aged just 22, the diagnosis came at a time when George was faced with key  decisions about relationships, family and career. Although diagnosis is most common when  people are in their 20s and 30s, there was a lack of support for those recently diagnosed.     George is passionate about the role that we, people living with the condition, can play in  the management of our healthcare. has over 25,000 members from around the  world. 

Prof. Uros Rot (UMC Ljubljana, Slovenia)

Uroš Rot, MD, PhD is Associate Professor of Neurology at the Department of Neurology, University Medical Centre Ljubljana, Slovenia and at Medical faculty, University of Ljubljana. His main reserach interests are clinical and CSF studies in multiple sclerosis and CSF studies of dementia/neurodegenerative diseases biomarkers. He is a Head of Department of Neurology, President of Slovenian Society of Neurology and a member of EAN Assembly and ECTRIMS Council.


Dr. Alice Schippers (VUMC Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Since 2009, Alice Schippers, Msc, PhD (interdisciplinary social sciences), has been general director of Disability Studies in the Netherlands, and has worked for twenty years in policy, management, research and higher education in the disabilities field. She also holds a coordinating senior research position at the Disability Studies unit of the Medical Humanities department of the Amsterdam University medical centre. Her publications are on (family) quality of life, inclusion and collaborative research.
She is co-chairing the International Special Interest Research Group on Quality of Life of the (IASSIDD). Disability Studies in the Netherlands is partner organization of the IASSIDD Academy, striving to further the knowledge of disability professionals around the world.


Prof. Walter Sermeus (KU Leuven, Belgium)

Walter SERMEUS is professor of healthcare management, Leuven Institute for Healthcare Policy, University of Leuven KU Leuven, Belgium. He holds a PhD in Public Health, a MSc in Biostatistics, a MSc in Healthcare Management and a BA in Nursing. He is Program Director of the Master in Health Care Policy & Management and Head of KU Leuven WHO Collaboration Centre on Human Resources in Health Research & Policy. He is Senior Fellow to the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania School, USA, Fellow of the European Academy of Nursing Science, Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, Fellow of the Belgian Royal Academy of Medicine, Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, UK and the European coordinator of the EU RN4CAST-network, Nurse Forecasting in Europe.


Prof. David B. Vodusek (Clinical Neurophusiology, Slovenia)

David B. Vodušek, MD, PhD, FEAN, is Emeritus Professor of Neurology at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Born in Slovenia he received his MD and PhD from the University of Ljubljana. He spend time in the Department for Clinical Neurophysiology, Uppsalla, Sweden, Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London, Baylor College, Houston, and at NYU, NY USA. In 1997 he was appointed full Professor of Neurology at the University of Ljubljana. He served as Head of the Institute of Clinical Neurophysiology in Ljubljana, as Chair of Neurology, Medical Faculty, University of Ljubljana and from 1996 - 2017 as Medical Director of the Division of Neurology, University Medical Center Ljubljana, where he continues to work as consultant. Dr. Vodušek is a member of the Slovene and German Neurological Association, British Association of Clinical Neurophysiology, and the European Academy of Neurology (Chair of the SubCommittee for European Affairs). He serves on the Editorial Board of Neurourology and Urodynamics. During his career, Dr. Vodušek has authored more than 100 articles in peer-reviewed international journals and has co-edited the 130th volume of the Handbook of Clinical Neurology series (Neurology of Sexual and Bladder Disorders).