Essey Award Winner Discusses Progress in ALS Genetics

Since 1996, the Sheila Essey Award for ALS Research has been presented by Dick Essey at the American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting, in memory of his wife Sheila, who battled ALS for 10 years and passed in 2004. This year, the award was presented to Ammar Al-Chalabi, Ph.D., FRCP, DipStat from King’s College London. Find out how Dr. Al-Chalabi’s work is driving progress in ALS research forward.

This year, The ALS Association and the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) were very pleased to honor Dr. Ammar Al-Chalabi with the Sheila Essey Award for ALS Research for his major contributions to the understanding of ALS and the search for new therapies to treat the disease. Dr. Al-Chalabi was presented the 2016 Sheila Essey Award by Dick Essey at the 68th AAN Annual Meeting in Vancouver, B.C. on April 20, 2016. The $50,000 prize was given to fuel his promising ALS research projects and to fund talented young scientists on his research team.

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Dr. Ammar Al-Chalabi

Dr. Al-Chalabi is currently Professor of Neurology and Complex Disease Genetics at King’s College London and Director of King’s MND Care and Research Center. He has made significant contributions to the ALS field. Dr. Al-Chalabi helped identify many known genetic causes of ALS, including C9orf72; developed the ALSoD database, an important tool for researchers funded by The ALS Association, MNDA UK and Therapy Alliance; and has made significant contributions to understanding disease staging, which impacts ALS care and clinical trial design. For more information regarding his illustrious research career click here.

Continue reading Essey Award Winner Discusses Progress in ALS Genetics

Four Highlights from The ALS Association’s Drug Company Working Group

“We are in a time of great hope in ALS therapy development. The efforts highlighted here are poised to accelerate progress in clinical trials and to bring new treatments to people living with ALS.” – Barb Newhouse, President and CEO, The ALS Association

Collaboration is a cornerstone of The ALS Association’s global research program. That’s why The Association hosts an annual ALS Drug Company Working Group that brings together representatives from pharmaceutical companies and academia to discuss how to move ALS research and therapy development forward.

This year, the Working Group was held at the 68th Annual American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Meeting in Vancouver in April. Below are some of the highlights from the meeting. Continue reading Four Highlights from The ALS Association’s Drug Company Working Group

The Neuro Collaborative: An Engine for ALS Therapeutics

In 2014, The ALS Association Golden West Chapter and patient advocate Jim Barber partnered to build the Neuro Collaborative concept. That year, following the amazing outpouring of support from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, The ALS Association committed $5 million dollars to the project. With additional help from The ALS Association Orange County and Wisconsin Chapters, the Neuro Collaborative has become an engine for ALS therapeutics. Learn more about the progress of each partner in the Neuro Collaborative below.

Early development of potential therapeutics is a major bottleneck in ALS therapy development. Eliminating this bottleneck is a significant opportunity for accelerating new treatments. That’s where the Neuro Collaborative comes in.

The Neuro Collaborative is a partnership between three leading laboratories in California: Clive Svendsen, Ph.D. at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles; Steven Finkbeiner, M.D., Ph.D. at Gladstone Institutes, affiliated with University of California San Francisco; and Don Cleveland, Ph.D. at University of California San Diego.

The goal of the Collaborative is to establish and invest in a leading team of experts to efficiently advance ALS drug development together with industry partners. This complements other programs including the Drug Development Contract Program in the TREAT™ ALS portfolio investing in academic and industry partnerships. This synergetic model leverages open dialogue and the scientific expertise of leading researchers to achieve therapeutic milestones as quickly as possible. It also reduces risk in the drug discovery process and attracts pharmaceutical companies to invest in drug development and clinical trials for ALS. With success, potential therapies for ALS will move more quickly than ever toward FDA approval and the open market. Continue reading The Neuro Collaborative: An Engine for ALS Therapeutics

Researcher Spotlight: Dr. Javier Jara

“Our ability to make progress in ALS depends so much on attracting the best young scientists into the field. The ALS Association’s Milton Safenowitz Post-Doctoral Fellowship program is a critical part of that effort. Almost 90 percent of our Fellows stay in ALS research, making up a significant fraction of the younger generation of ALS researchers.”
– Dr. Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D., M.B.A., Chief Scientist, The ALS Association

Javier Jara, Ph.D., is a Research Assistant Professor in Dr. Hande Ozdinler’s laboratory in the Department of Neurology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. He was funded by The ALS Association’s Milton Safenowitz Post-Doctoral Fellowship for ALS Research from 2010-2012 and recently was awarded his own Investigator-Initiated grant by The Association. These awards helped support his research including a project that focuses on how upper motor neurons die in ALS and how to intervene to prevent their death. The results of this project were featured in the January 21, 2016, issue of Gene Therapy. Recently, we sat down with Dr. Jara to learn more about his exciting research project and to get to know the person behind the science.

What has the support from The ALS Association meant to you? Do you have a message for donors who helped make your projects possible?
I want to give a big thank you to the donors for their support and trust. Without their generous contribution, I would not be where I am now. I am extremely grateful! Continue reading Researcher Spotlight: Dr. Javier Jara