The Overcoming MS program evolved from a list Professor George Jelinek wrote and kept on his kitchen fridge in 1999, a list of lifestyle habits he would practice to keep himself well, alongside medication. This Program was first shared in 2000, and continues to underpin the work of Overcoming MS today.

Overcoming MS the charity was established in 2012 by our President, Linda Bloom, following her diagnosis of MS and subsequent discovery of the Overcoming MS Program and the impact it had on her health.

Read below for some key milestones for Overcoming MS. For the medical history of MS, visit the About MS section. 


1999

  • Professor George Jelinek, a medical doctor, is diagnosed with MS at age 45. 18 years prior to his diagnosis, Professor Jelinek’s mother took her own life at the age of 45, having been totally incapacitated by a progressive form of MS.

  • Within weeks of diagnosis, Professor Jelinek reads over 1,000 key research papers of the world’s leading medical journals (including Roy Swank’s work). It becomes clear to Jelinek that remaining well after an MS diagnosis was a real possibility with a commitment to the right lifestyle changes alongside medication.

  • He creates the Overcoming MS Program which includes recommendations for lifestyle and dietary changes alongside medication as advised by healthcare professionals.

2000

  • Professor Jelinek’s first book, Taking Control of Multiple Sclerosis, is published by Allen and Unwin.

2002 

  • Professor Jelinek begins sharing his recommendations with others who have been diagnosed with MS via residential retreats in Australia.

  • The Stop MS research study begins in April with the first group to attend the Overcoming MS retreat. Over the subsequent years until May 2013, people with MS attending retreats are asked to participate in a study. The study measures their quality of life at intervals of one, five, ten and twenty years after their retreat experience.

 2004 

  • Following the success of the Australian retreats, Professor Jelinek begins MS residential retreats in New Zealand, run by the MS Society of Auckland. These annual events ran until 2012. 

2005 

  • A revised edition of Professor Jelinek’s book Taking Control of Multiple Sclerosis is published.

2008 

  • Takingcontrolofmultiplesclerosis.org website launches.

2010 

  • After a decade of symptom-free living, Professor Jelinek publishes Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis: An Evidence Based Guide to Recovery. This builds on his original book (Taking Control of Multiple Sclerosis) with a much increased base of research references and evidence base and a clearer layout.

2011

  • The Stop MS study was amended to include detailed data on lifestyle factors and medications. This allows the research team to determine whether retreat participants had adhered to recommendations in the years following the retreats, and the extent to which adherence resulted in health changes.

2012 

  • HOLISM study starts (Health Outcomes and Lifestyle In a Sample of People with Multiple Sclerosis). This is the first study of its type to collect detailed lifestyle data from a large group of people with MS worldwide, correlated with health outcomes. There have been many publications from the HOLISM Study. 

  • The Overcoming MS charity is officially established in the UK by Linda Bloom, with the goal of expanding awareness of the Overcoming MS Program. Founder Linda Bloom said:

“When I was at a charity function I started wondering if people in the UK knew about Professor Jelinek and the Overcoming MS approach. When I realized that, although it was a well-established approach to MS management in Australia and New Zealand, no one in the UK had heard of it. I felt compelled to share information about the Overcoming MS approach. In the early days it was just me with an idea to spread the message and raise awareness about how lifestyle changes can make a positive difference to those living with MS. It was one conversation at a time.” 

2013 

  • First day-long Overcoming MS conference in Brighton, UK with 274 delegates. 

  • STOP MS five year follow-up is published, a study of over 400 people with MS who attended an Overcoming MS retreat.

  • Recovering From Multiple Sclerosis book is published, featuring 12 real life stories of hope and inspiration, written by Professor George Jelinek and Karen Law. 

2014 

  • A second Overcoming MS residential retreat takes place in Somerset, UK.

  • In July, a second Overcoming MS Conference takes place at Aston Villa Football Club, Birmingham, UK with over 100 people in attendance.

  • Overcoming MS is incorporated as a charitable company limited by guarantee (UK). 

  • Overcoming MS runs a series of smaller group one-day events for people with MS around the UK.

  • Professor Jelinek’s research group in Melbourne publishes a number of key papers during the year and Overcoming MS funds ‘open access’ to them, allowing all researchers and health professional worldwide unhindered access.

2015 

  • Overcoming MS is registered as a charity in Australia and the US.

  • More retreats run in the UK - Cardiff, Glasgow, Edinburgh, London, Somerset and Oxfordshire. 

  • First Irish retreat at the Emmaus Centre, Dublin.

  • First European retreat takes place in Austria.

  • The Neuroepidemiology Unit (NEU) of the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne is formed by Professor George Jelinek and funded by members of the MS community. The team conducts a longitudinal research study into lifestyle risk factors and preventive medicine for those with MS to see if intervention strategies can be used as a secondary preventive approach to managing MS alongside medication.

  • Ted Jackson, an Overcoming MS supporter, undertakes the World Marathon Challenge - 7 Marathons on 7 Continents in 7 Days, raising more than £177,000. 

2016 

  • A second edition of Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis: The Evidence-Based Seven Step Program is published worldwide (first published in 2010).

  • Overcoming MS Conference takes place at Wokefield Park, Reading, UK with 160 people in attendance.

  • The Overcoming MS team, Professor Jelinek, Dr Pia Jelinek and Dr Craig Hassed embarked on our first face-to-face interaction with the US MS community, with an ambitious program of events in Los Angeles, New York and Boston.

  • Tim Cobb hosts first Sussex Business Lunch Club event. Tim has been organising an regular business networking lunch in Brighton that has raised in excess of £70,000 for Overcoming MS. 

2017 

  • Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis Cookbook is published, edited by Ingrid Adelsberger. Ingrid has been successfully managing her MS on the Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis Program since 2011. The cookbook contains 200 wholefood, meat-free and dairy-free recipes.

  • Conference in Brighton, UK is attended by 245 delegates.

 2018 

  • The Overcoming MS Circles and Ambassador program is created to provide grassroots support for people with MS, led by volunteers with experience in the Overcoming MS program.

  • Conference at Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland with 160 in attendance. 

  • Two UK retreats in Somerset and in Wales and a further two in Melbourne, Australia.

2019 

  • The ‘Living Well with MS’ Podcast launches. 

  • The Overcoming MS conference in Edinburgh, Scotland takes place with Professor Jelinek and over 350 attendees.

  • The 100th OMS Circle is created.

  • Overcoming MS hosts an awareness raising event at the House of Commons, London, UK hosted by Stephen Lloyd MP.  

  • David and Harrison Woodward break the UK and World non-stop wakeboarding records as part of a fundraising event for Overcoming MS, raising over £2,900. 

  • Hector Skipworth is one of the youngest-ever competitors to complete the Marathon Des Sables, raising funds for Overcoming MS. 

  • Professor George Jelinek retires.

2020

  • Launch of our webinar programme, ‘Finding Hope Overcoming MS’ – providing additional support triggered by the start of the pandemic.

  • Expansion of our ‘Mental Health Hub, to help people dealing with the stress of the pandemic.

  • Theory of Change workshops took place with the community and other key stakeholders to inform the direction of the Overcoming MS strategy.

  • Responded to the Covid-19 pandemic by developing and launching the Refresh with Overcoming MS webinar series.

2021

  • Launched Circles Online, a platform to support our global Circles community.

  • Delivered our first community wide engagement survey with 1,367 responses received.

  • Supported 94 Circles and 100 Ambassadors across our global community of 29 countries.

  • Launched Season 3 of the podcast and created a new food-focused episode series called 'Ask Jack'.

  • Released the first Overcoming MS impact report.

2022

  • The appointment of our new Chair, Dowshan Humzah, to lead the Board of Trustees.

  • Launch of ‘I am Overcoming MS’ videos.

  • Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the charity.

  • Rebrand to mark our 10th anniversary.

  • 10 minutes with George – a series on the podcast to mark our 10th anniversary.

  • 100th episode of ‘Living well with MS’ podcast.

  • Started a formal working partnership with six other UK-based MS Charities.

  • Partnered with HelloSelf, offering online psychological support for family and friends of people with MS and following the Overcoming MS Program.

  • Supported the hard work of our Ambassador from the South West in the UK who raised £11,000 for Overcoming MS at the Delamore Arts Event.

2023

  • Launch of ‘Hope Reborn’ following a partnership MS Society and Fabio D’Andrea in 2022.

  • Appointment of the new Chief Executive, Alex Holden, to lead the charity.

  • Launch of the UK Pop Up Tour, visiting four locations across the United Kingdom.

  • Launch of the new virtual ‘Pathways’ course.

  • Community video, ‘I am Overcoming MS’, are launched on the website.

  • Launch of the Overcoming MS app, the Live Well Hub, connecting members of Circles and the wider community in a shared network.

  • Restart of UK Retreats, following a pause as a result of lockdown.

  • Andy McKenna launches ‘MS Makes Me’ promoting the Overcoming MS Program and sharing his experiences alongside Dr Jonathan White.

  • Presented at the British Society of Lifestyle Medicine conference in Manchester on the significant award-winning Pathway to Overcoming MS course.

  • Established a Healthcare Advisory group with a focus on increasing and awareness with the Healthcare Professionals community.

  • Delivered Overcoming MS Pop-Up events in the UK in Buxton, Edinburgh, Bristol and Guildford.