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ALS Researcher Who Died of ALS Honored with New Research Fellowship

February 28, 2012

The American Academy of Neurology Foundation and The ALS Association are announcing the creation of the Richard Olney Clinician Scientist Development Award in ALS, named after Richard K. Olney, M.D., a leading neurologist and pioneer in clinical ALS research who died late last month of ALS, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

“We came together to create this research fellowship in record time as a tribute to Dr. Olney, not only as a courageous person, but one whose pioneering ALS research improved the lives of many people diagnosed with this dreadful disease that gradually robs the body of its ability to use its muscles,” said John Mazziotta, M.D., Ph.D., Chair of the American Academy of Neurology Foundation’s Board of Trustees and Professor and Chair of UCLA’s Brain Mapping Center in Los Angeles.

Applications for the $240,000 research prize will be accepted through October 1, 2012.

Olney was founder and director of the ALS Treatment and Research Center at the University of California-San Francisco before he was diagnosed with ALS in 2004 and turned over the reins to Catherine Lomen-Hoerth, M.D., Ph.D. Lomen-Hoerth was Olney’s former student who went on to become his physician. 

“This is an incredible initiative to honor Rick Olney's legacy and his work in ALS as an advocate, researcher, clinician, and teacher.  It will be inspirational for the recipient of this award to hear about his life and strive to follow in his footsteps,” said Lomen-Hoerth, who is a past recipient of an American Academy of Neurology Foundation clinical research training fellowship. “As a recipient myself of a clinical research training fellowship in the past, it was an essential springboard for me to enter the field of ALS research.  I am grateful to these organizations for providing this fellowship and for honoring Rick Olney and his family in this special way.”

“Dr. Olney will be remembered not only as a courageous person with ALS, but someone who as an outstanding clinician and scientist made major contributions both for patients and the scientific field,” said ALS Association Chief Scientist Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D. “He has been an inspiration to those of us who work every day to understand the disease with a hope to find meaningful therapies for ALS. It is an honor to have known him personally, and The ALS Association is proud to have the opportunity to name this award in his memory.”

“The loss to our ALS community is immeasurable,” said Fred Fisher, President and CEO of The ALS Association Golden West Chapter. “Dr. Olney's commitment to excellence in patient care, clinical research and advocacy has contributed to people with ALS living longer, better quality lives.”

In 2006, the American Academy of Neurology Foundation presented Olney with a special Public Education Award for his efforts to raise awareness of the disease and money for research by sharing his story as a researcher/doctor turned patient with the national media.

The American Academy of Neurology Foundation supports vital research into finding cures for brain disease. The Foundation is committed to improving patient care, quality of life and public understanding of brain disease. To learn more or to make a donation to support research, visit http://www.aan.com/foundation.

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 25,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit http://www.aan.com or find them on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.


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