The ALS Association

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Carrie Munk
The ALS Association
(571) 319-3047



The ALS Association Funds $1.3 Million in New Grants to Advance ALS Research

Washington, D.C. (December 9, 2015) — Today, The ALS Association announced its support for nine new research grants totaling $1,344,346 to further the development of new treatments for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). These research awards include ALS Association-Initiated grants, Investigator-Initiated grants, and Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowships.

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.

ALS Association-Initiated Grants

The ALS Association defined areas of specific focus for research and invited experts in their respective fields to submit proposals. The ALS Association convenes a review board to discuss proposals and makes selections based on the merits of each one. ALS Association-Initiated Grants include the following:

Joseph S. Beckman, Ph.D., Oregon State University, Corvallis, Ore.
Topic: Preclinical investigation of CuATSM in mice and dogs
Award: $300,000 over two years
Funding is made possible through the generous support of the Oregon Chapter of The ALS Association.

Zuoshang Xu, Ph.D. and Thoru Pederson, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Mass.
Topic: Developing a rapid diagnostic assay for C9orf72 DNA repeat expansion
Award: $95,789 for one year

The Northeast ALS Consortium (NEALS)
Topic: Support for NEALS infrastructure in partnership with the Muscular Dystrophy Association
Award: $154,544.47 over three years

Janine Kirby, Ph.D., Paul Heath, Ph.D., University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK, and Ammar Al-Chalabi, Ph.D., King’s College, London, UK
Topic: Comparison of microRNAs in people with ALS of short versus long disease duration
Award: $18,766 for one year

Investigator-Initiated Biomarker Grants

Investigator-initiated grants draw on knowledge of diverse experts throughout the world whose efforts are all dedicated to advancing the search for new treatments for ALS. The ALS Association focuses its funding on five key areas of research: genes, models & mechanisms, biomarkers, therapy development and clinical studies. Biomarkers are measurable changes that track disease onset, progression or response to therapy. Biomarkers have the potential to allow clinical trials to be smaller, faster and more informative. Finding biomarkers for ALS is a priority for speeding the development of new therapies. The ALS Association’s Investigator-Initiated Biomarker grants include the following:

Bruce Trapp, Ph.D., Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio
Topic: Post mortem MRI and pathology in ALS patients to identify biomarkers and evidence of oligodendrocyte dysfunction
Award: $238,611 over three years

Joan R. Coates, D.V.M., University of Missouri – Columbia, Columbia, Mo., and John M. Gerdes, Ph.D., Southern Research Institute, South Birmingham, Ala.
Topic: PET Imaging of EAAT2 in the dog model of ALS
Award: $236,636 over thirty months

Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowships

The Association offers The Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowships for ALS Research Award. 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, these awards are to encourage and facilitate promising young scientists to enter the ALS field. Fellows work with a senior mentor and receive extensive exposure to the ALS research community through meetings and presentations. Grants are $100,000 over two years. New fellowship awardees join those announced earlier this year:

Jone Lopez-Erauskin, Ph.D. in Dr. Don Cleveland’s laboratory, University of California at San Diego, San Diego
Topic: Identifying key molecular targets to counteract muscle denervation in ALS
Award: $100,000 over two years

David Medina, Ph.D. under the guidance of Dr. Robert Bowser and Dr. Rachael Sirianni, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Ariz.
Topic: Modulating retinoid signaling as a therapeutic approach for ALS
Award: $100,000 over two years.

Fernande Freyermuth, Ph.D. in Dr. Clotilde Langier-Tourenne’s laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital, Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Charlestown, Mass.
Topic: Targeting FUS misfolding to mitigate RNA processing alterations linked to ALS
Award: $100,000 over two years

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

Full descriptions of the research projects are located here.

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

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