The ALS Association

ALS Association and Robert Packard Center for ALS Research Announce New Scientific Grant Award

March 10, 2014

The Robert Packard Center for ALS Research and The ALS Association proudly announce the first scientific grant award from the Winokur Family Research Initiative at the opening of the 14th Annual Robert Packard Center for ALS Research Symposium. This inaugural grant will help fund a project under the direction on Phil Wong, Ph.D., a Professor of Pathology at Johns Hopkins University and Liam Chen, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Pathology at Johns Hopkins University. 

The study will focus on the use of animal models of TDP-43-linked ALS-FTD (frontotemporal dementia) to validate and characterize newly identified therapeutic targets for ALS. This study is important because it will help identify the valid targets needed for developing effective therapies for this disease. The targets identified by Drs. Wong and Chen will provide a clear understanding of how TDP-43 kills neurons which will identify and develop mechanism-based therapeutics. Previous studies have shown that TPD-43 proteinopathy, which involves malformed proteins, is common in both sporadic and familial ALS and FTD.

“The Packard Center is pleased to have the opportunity to, once again, partner with The ALS Association to work on this important project. We thank our friend Diane Winokur for her support of the work we do to combat ALS and are pleased to honor her and this initiative at the onset of our Annual Scientific Symposium,” said Piera Pasinelli, Ph.D., the Packard Center’s Science Director.

The Winokur Family Research Initiative was conceived and initiated specifically to fund promising early-stage research by The Association’s Golden West Chapter. Through a unique collaboration between the Packard Center and The ALS Association, groundbreaking, targeted studies are supported by a peer-reviewed process that is results-oriented and highly accountable.  The goal is to fund promising early-stage ALS research and move it forward more quickly. Aside from providing the needed funding for the organizations’ ongoing commitment to ALS research, the Winokur Family Research Initiative will also encourage scientists to work together toward the ultimate goal of one day finding a treatment or cure for ALS.

The founder of the Winokur Family Research Initiative, Diane Winokur, is a highly-respected leader in the fight against ALS. She, and her late husband, Bob, had first-hand knowledge of how devastating ALS is, having lost two sons, Douglas and Hugh, to the disease.  Winokur serves on the boards of the Golden West Chapter and The Robert Packard Center for ALS Research. She was recently appointed as the ALS and MS representative on the Independent Citizen’s Oversight Committee, the governing body of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).

“The ALS Association is delighted to honor Diane Winokur and partner with The Packard Center for ALS Research on this exciting project,” said Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D. MBA, Chief Scientist of The ALS Association.

The Packard Center’s Research Symposium is an annual meeting, held in Baltimore, Md., that brings together 145 clinicians and bench researchers, postdoctoral students, and advisory board members – all leaders in the field of ALS.  This invitation-only event requires Packard-funded researchers to present their research findings that are subject to peer-reviews by the Center’s Board of Scientific Advisors. The Symposium is a review of all research projects funded by the Packard Center, plus a series of updates from clinical partners at the Northeast ALS Consortium (NEALS).  Attendees come from institutions in 21 states across the U.S., as well as from Canada, Belgium, Germany, France, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Read the press release.

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