Contact:
Carrie Munk
The ALS Association
(571) 319-3047
cmunk@alsa-national.org

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Phi Delta Theta Supports Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellow

Washington, D.C. (December 18, 2015) — The ALS Association is pleased to announce that Phi Delta Theta Fraternity is lending support to the Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellow program, with a $100,000 award over two years for Antonia Dominguez, Ph.D., a scientist pursuing treatments for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Founded by the Safenowitz family through the Greater New York Chapter of The ALS Association and in memory of Mr. Safenowitz, who died of ALS in 1998, Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowships are to encourage promising young scientists to enter or continue on in the ALS research field. Fellows work with a senior mentor and receive extensive exposure to the ALS research community through meetings and presentations.

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Eventually, people with ALS lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which often leads to total paralysis and death within two to five years of diagnosis. For unknown reasons, veterans are twice as likely to develop ALS as the general population. There is no cure, and only one drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) modestly extends survival.

Dr. Dominguez’s research focuses on the discovery of the C9orf72 mutation, the most common cause of inherited ALS and set off on an urgent to search to understand how the mutation causes disease. Dr. Dominguez, under the guidance of Lei Stanley Qi, Ph.D. and Steven Finkbeiner, M.D., Ph.D., will use novel technology to pursue this important question. She will work with patient and control induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to understand the effects of the mutation, as well as probe the downstream effects of the repeat RNA, specifically testing the consequences of sequestration of important RNA-binding proteins.

“By understanding the molecular mechanism and regulatory landscape of C9orf72, we hope to define new RNA or proteins as potential druggable targets for treating ALS,” Dr. Dominguez says. “I am honored and grateful to both The ALS Association and Phi Delta Theta for the Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowship. With this generous support, I will apply emerging technology to understand how C9orf72 mutations impact the survival of motor neurons (cells that die in ALS) that are derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). The results from these studies have potential to define new targets for future ALS therapeutics.”

Phi Delta Theta has had a longstanding partnership with the ALS community and has supported The ALS Association for more than a decade. Through the support of Phi Delta Theta’s undergraduate and alumni members, the Fraternity has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars and hours to support ALS research and care services programs.

Steve Good, Senior Director of Engagement of Phi Delta Theta stated, “Phi Delta Theta’s takes great pride in our partnership with The ALS Association. We are committed to the fight against ALS and our members continually impress us with their efforts to support those researching and living with the disease. Our members live by the motto ‘we enjoy life by the help and society of others’, and this partnership allows many Phis to put this motto into action.”

About Phi Delta Theta
Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity has a unique partnership with The ALS Association in honor of Phi Delta Theta member and baseball great, Lou Gehrig. Through campus events and its Iron Phi charity athletics program, Phi Delta Theta’s chapters and members raise $500,000+ each year for the fight against ALS. The Fraternity annually presents the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award, an award in the Baseball Hall of Fame, to the Major League Baseball Player who best exemplifies the spirit and character of Lou Gehrig, both on and off the field.

About The ALS Association
The ALS Association is the only national non-profit organization fighting Lou Gehrig’s Disease on every front. By leading the way in global research, providing assistance for people with ALS through a nationwide network of chapters, coordinating multidisciplinary care through certified clinical care centers, and fostering government partnerships, The Association builds hope and enhances quality of life while aggressively searching for new treatments and a cure. For more information about The ALS Association, visit our website at www.alsa.org.

The ALS Association’s current call for new Investigator-Initiated Awards and Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowship Awards is located here.

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