2017 projects receiving support from MARS Foundation

The MARS Foundation has elected to support two studies in 2017 through our donation of $95,000 to the National MS Society.


First Study:

Researcher:  Sergio Baranzini, PhD                           Project:  The MS Microbiome Consortium

Project Duration:  4/1/2015-3/31/2020                   Total Cost:  $800,898


“The MS Microbiome Consortium (MSMC): an academic multi-disciplinary collaborative effort to elucidate the role of the gut microbiota in MS” With this support to the MS Microbiome Consortium, a multi-center team is conducting a comprehensive analysis of gut bacteria in people with MS to determine factors that may drive progression and help to develop probiotic strategies for stopping progressing. 2014 Stephen C. Reingold Research Award for most outstanding research proposal.

Second study:

Researcher:  Ben Clarkson, PhD                               Project:  Role of ISGylation in MS

Project Duration:  7/1/2017-6/30/2020                   Total Cost:  $184,654

Location: Mayo Clinic Rochester, Minnesota


Researchers at the Mayo Clinic are investigating a process called “ISGylation” that may play a role in the cognitive problems experienced by many people with MS.

MARS Foundation receives Sylvie Award

Each year, the Upper Midwest Chapter hosts annual conferences in different parts of the chapter area. The conferences are both for celebration and planning ― we take time to reflect on our achievements and begin shaping the ways we’ll impact the MS movement in the coming year. 

This year's conference theme was "Breakthrough MS." We also celebrated the remarkable work of volunteers, donors and other dedicated leaders who made a difference in 2016.

MARS Foundation's Kevin Huss and Margie Scott are pictured here receiving a Sylvie Award for MARS Foundation's dedication to funding research toward finding a cure for MS.

2015 Projects receiving support from Mars Foundation


The MARS Foundation has elected to support three studies in 2015.

Jonah Chan, the first recipient of the Barancik Prize for groundbreaking MS Research, talks about his work. 

· Mangalam/RodriguezMARS Foundation provided $50,000 in support  (it is important to note that the study doesn't mention Moses Rodrigues, but he is a co-investigator and the MARS Foundation strongly supports Moses’ work, both now and historically)

· Chan’s project – MARS Foundation provided $30,000 in support

· Calabresi’s projectMARS Foundation provided $20,000 in support

Click on the name of any of the three projects for more detailed information.

Racehorse owner donates portion of earnings to MARS Foundation auction

By Kristin Cook

Thousands of items have been auctioned over the past 13 years at the MARS Foundation’s annual golf outing event held each August at Lake Panorama, but nothing has been as unique as what was auctioned off in 2014.  

Brooke Tanner bid and won the unusual prize  -  10% of one year's earnings from a race horse named BP Cartels Policy ("Bill" for short).  

Horse Bill's racing money was donated by his owner, John and Mary Lawless, who met MARS Foundation founders Wayne and Marlene Anderson through fellow horse racing friends.

“Our thought was that it would be something different that we hoped would generate some excitement both at the auction and throughout the year," said John.  

The auction winner seems "very pleased with his winnings," said John.  "He's gotten his money back with the Prairie Meadows meet and Oklahoma City and Shakopee yet to go." 

Bill and his jockey, Stormy Smith.

Bill and his jockey, Stormy Smith.

John and Mary got involved in horse racing in 1998, primarily with quarter horses, which generally run races from 250 - 440 yards in a straight line (as opposed to thoroughbreds, which run longer distances).  They currently own six horses outright or in partnership with others.  Their horse trainer lives south of Oklahoma City, where they spend a few months each winter.  The horses  generally race beginning in March in Oklahoma City until May, then move to Shakopee, Minnesota. In mid-August they come to Prairie Meadows and stay until mid-October. 

 “Horse racing has been an activity that definitely has its disappointments, but also some very high and exciting times.  Overall, it’s something we both really enjoy, especially the part that has introduced us to so many wonderful people from across the country,” said John.  

John and Mary we pleased they could put their horse racing expertise towards a good cause.

 “Not every horse does as well as Bill, but it has sure been fun to share his success to the benefit of MS research,” John said.

Bill and some of the MARS Foundation crew

Bill and some of the MARS Foundation crew

National Multiple Sclerosis Society recognizes MARS Foundation efforts with awards

Jennifer McGee, Donor Engagement Director for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Upper Midwest Chapter, has recently sent us the following information about two awards the MARS Foundation has won.

Award # 1:  National Level - The Chairman’s Circle (2014):

Members of the National MS Society’s “Chairman’s Circle” demonstrate their commitment to the Society’s mission through exemplary financial leadership and generosity. Each individual, corporation, foundation or team that is honored into the Chairman’s Circle has given or raised $500,000 or more to bring us closer to ta world free of MS.  This year, the Mars Foundation was inducted into this nationally recognized prestigious giving circle. We are honored to have their continued support and thank them for their hard work!

"The first is the Des Moines MSAC.  And, because it is a National level giving circle, Mars was also referenced/listed in our materials and during the presentation at the MS Society’s National Conference held in Dallas/Fort Worth in November of 2014," said McGee.  The conference hosts hundreds of guests comprised of Society employees, board members, donors and volunteers from around the country…it’s a pretty big/special deal."

Award # 2:  Chapter Level - Philanthropist of the Year Award (2013):

The Philanthropist of the Year Award is reserved for gifts that make a substantial impact on the MS community. And any time the MS Society has the privilege of giving this award away, it is a time to celebrate!  

"In 2013, the MARS Foundation donated $100,000 to fund MS research," said McGee. "These funds support the National MS Society’s “NOW Campaign,” which stands for No Opportunity Wasted. Significant research progress occurred in 2013. And with the help of the Mars Foundation, the National MS Society was able to increase its annual research investment to $50 million in 2014 — because understanding and ending MS can’t come fast enough."