Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellows Come Together to Share Innovative Ideas

Innovation plays a key role in The ALS Association’s fight to develop treatments and a cure for ALS and to empower people living with the disease to live their lives to the fullest. During June and July, we are celebrating some of the key innovations helping us change the nature of ALS forever.

The ALS Association is proud to have supported the development of bright, young scientists through the Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowship program since 2004. The Safenowitz family, through our Greater New York Chapter, founded the program in memory of Milton Safenowitz, who died of ALS in 1998.

On June 21, our newest class of Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowship awardees came together for a bi-annual symposium in New York City. The fellows were joined by four established researchers –Dr. Sandrine DaCruz from University of California San Diego, Dr. Tania Gendron from the Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, Dr. Timothy Miller from Washington University St. Louis, and Dr. Hemali Phatnani from the Center for Genomics of Neurodegenerative Disease (CGND) at the New York Genome Center – who gave advice on each fellow’s work.

Dr. DaCruz and Dr. Gendron are former Milton Safenowitz fellows who are now highly regarded ALS researchers running their own ALS labs.

Dr. Timothy Miller was the keynote speaker at the luncheon. He gave an overview of his work in ALS genetics and biomarkers (a substance you can measure in the body that changes over time).

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2018 marks the 20th anniversary year of Milton’s passing, and we were honored to be joined by the Safenowitz family to mark the occasion. Marilyn Safenowitz, Milton’s wife and matriarch of the family, which now includes nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild, proudly handed out the fellowship awards to our new class during the luncheon.

And Ryan Levine, Milton’s grandson, gave a moving speech about his grandfather, describing him as a person who “people should emulate because of the empathy and love that he exuded and his dedication to help others.”

Milton Safenowitz Group Shot

The ALS Association provides the only postdoctoral fellowship program specifically tailored toward supporting first-year postdoctoral fellows in the ALS field, made possible by the generous support of the Safenowitz family and donors across the globe, including support from many of our chapters and the ALS Ride For Life.

The Association understands that attracting bright, young scientists to enter and then remain in ALS research is essential to moving the field forward. Our Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowship awards were created specifically to encourage and facilitate promising new scientists to enter the ALS field.

The pathway for a postdoctoral fellow to attain their own laboratory at an academic institution is long and difficult. According to the journal Nature, people remain a postdoc for as many as five years with a relatively low salary, and many fellows become discouraged by the prospect of life in academia and, instead, take positions in industry or abandon careers in research altogether.

The ALS Association is committed to turning the tables on these statistics. Through mentorship and resources provided by our Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowship program, over 90 percent of award recipients finish their fellowships and start their own ALS laboratories.

That means the program not only increases the pool of bright young researchers in the fight against ALS, but also balloons the number and quality of innovative ideas across the research pipeline.

Since its founding, the program has proudly sponsored 64 postdoctoral fellows have published over 167 publications in top journals. All of our fellows are and have been regular presenters at major scientific meetings.

Our Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowship program gives young scientists the opportunity to obtain invaluable experience through the development of high-quality papers, collection of data, and support of applications for further funding from the Association, the National Institutes of Health, and other sources.

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Safenowitz fellows come into the laboratory with innovative ideas that give fresh perspectives on ongoing work. Funding from The ALS Association allows Safenowitz fellow to effectively test those ideas to produce brilliant work and publications in top scientific journals.

Safenowitz fellows also leverage funding from the Association to establish their own ALS research laboratories, where they continue to move their ideas toward potential treatments, as well as mentor other bright, young ALS researchers.

Our fellowships also provide fundamental mentorship to young scientists through relationships with their own mentors and partnerships with other ALS researchers.

Donate now to help us support more innovative, collaborative work to help advance research and care for people living with ALS and their families.

Don’t miss out on doubling your impact! This is a critical time to donate since our corporate partner, Biohaven Pharmaceuticals, is matching all gifts up to a total of $25,000! Biohaven is committed to supporting innovation to help improve the lives of all people impacted by ALS.

To learn more about Biohaven’s commitment to advances in ALS and other neurological diseases, click here.

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