Our history & context

Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis (OMS) is a global charity with a growing community of people from around the world who are making lifestyle changes to help manage their symptoms and live well with multiple sclerosis (MS).

history doc

The OMS program evolved from a list Professor George Jelinek wrote and kept on his kitchen fridge in 1999, a lifestyle of habits he would practice to keep himself well. This program was published as a book in 2000, and exists today in its most recent 2016 edition.

Overcoming MS the charity was established in 2012 by our current Chair, Linda Bloom. Our goal is to reach everyone diagnosed with multiple sclerosis around the world and provide them with evidenced-based information about lifestyle changes, that benefited both George and Linda’s recovery from MS.

Read below for some key milestones for the OMS Program and the OMS Charity. 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 researches over 1,000 key research papers (drawn from the top 5,000) 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.

  • He creates the Overcoming MS program including recommendations for lifestyle and dietary changes.

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 at the Gawler Foundation, Melbourne, 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.

  • The study is amended in 2011 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. 

 2004 

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

2005 

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

2008 

  • Takingcontrolofmultiplesclerosis.org website launches

  • Professor Roy Laver Swank, one of the world's most visionary neurologists, dies at the age of 99

  • ‘Taking Control of MS’ Facebook page is created (now the Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis page)

2009 

  • A community forum is introduced to the Overcoming MS website. 

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.

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 15 publications from the HOLISM Study to date. 

Participants are followed up at 2.5 year intervals. Analysis examines functional status, depression risk, fatigue, sexual function, pain, cognitive function and quality of life. Demographic, lifestyle and medication factors, and their relative contributions are also captured. 

 

The Overcoming MS charity is officially established in the UK by Linda Bloom, with the goal of expanding awareness of the Overcoming MS 7-Step Recovery Program. 

“When I was at a charity function I started wondering if people in the UK knew about Professor Jelinek and the OMS 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 OMS 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 OMS 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 a 5-day OMS 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 OMS residential retreat takes place in Somerset, UK.

  • In July, a second OMS 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). 

  • OMS 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 OMS funds ‘open access’ to them, allowing all researchers and health professional worldwide unhindered access.

2015 

  • New website and branding launches in September. 

  • In May, 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.

  • In September, the 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 OMS supporter, undertakes the World Marathon Challenge - 7 Marathons on 7 Continents in 7 Days, raising more than £177,000. 

2016 

  • OMS moves its HQ to Haddenham, Oxfordshire, UK.

  • In May, a second edition of Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis: the evidence-based seven step recovery program is published worldwide (first published in 2010).

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

  • OMS book available in large print edition. 

  • US three-city tour takes place in late October and early November with the OMS team, Professor Jelinek, Dr Pia Jelinek and Dr Craig Hassed embarking on an ambitious program of events in Los Angeles, New York and Boston. The events were our first face-to-face interaction with the US MS community.

  • The OMS Global Dinner Party launches. 

  • Tim Cobb hosts first Sussex Business Lunch Club event. Tim has been organising an annual 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 and is based in LA. The cookbook contains 200 wholefood, meat-free and dairy-free recipes.

  • Conference in Brighton, UK is attended by 245 delegates (40% of whom are new to OMS).

 2018 

  • OMS Circles and Ambassador program is created to provide grassroots support for people with MS, led by volunteers with experience in the OMS program. (20 Circles are active by the end of the year.)

  • Conference at Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland with 160 in attendance (45% new to OMS). 

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

  • Overcoming MS book is published in German. 

2019 


Further reading