GALVESTON, Texas – Everyone is familiar with or has heard of the March Madness college basketball tournament.

The scientific community also has a tournament in March and The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston is one of 16 universities competing for the research discovery of 2017.

The competition was created by STAT, an online scientific publication, to find the next best innovations in health and medicine.

The UTMB research project in the competition found that a person carrying variants of two particular genes could be almost three times more likely to develop multiple sclerosis. The discovery could open the way to the development of more accurate tests to identify those at greatest risk of MS, and possibly other autoimmune disorders.

The research team was led by UTMB’s Dr. Mariano Garcia-Blanco and their findings were published in the journal Cell.

If UTMB researchers receive the needed votes to defeat Washington University in St. Louis in the current round they will advance to the next round of voting in a bracket comprised of eight teams.

The public can vote for UTMB research at A contest winner will be announced April 2.