A McMaster University student is co-leading a new partnership between a volunteer-run website and the U.S.-based National Ataxia Foundation (NAF) to help people with the condition.

Ataxia is a rare neurological disease affecting a person’s ability to walk, talk, and use fine motor skills.

Co-ordinating the integration between SCAsource, which offers easy-to-read website articles about ataxia, and the NAF is McMaster PhD candidate Celeste Suart and the University of Michigan’s Hayley McLoughlin.

The new partnership will increase SCAsource’s reach and ease their administrative responsibilities, with all articles being migrated to NAF’s website by July.

“We would like to thank the NAF for this incredible opportunity. Partnering with them will help SCAsource reach more people and drastically reduce our overhead costs,” said Suart, who is completing her PhD in biochemistry under the supervision of McMaster professor Ray Truant.

“It will allow us to keep writing research summaries and making ataxia research accessible for all.”

Suart said Truant, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, has supported both SCAsource and the upcoming partnership.

“Dr. Truant has volunteered with us before as an editor and was also the senior author of our mixed-methods analysis paper examining the impact of SCAsource on its readers and volunteer contributors,” she said.

Founded in 1957, the NAF is a Minneapolis-based non-profit organization established to help persons with ataxia and their families. It supports the research of new ataxia treatments and provides services for both patients and their families.

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