The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s Transformative Research Award was awarded to LiveLikeLou Foundation ALS Researchers, providing a $9 million five-year investment to their effort to identify the molecular and genetic mechanisms that cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This NIH award supports “exceptionally innovative or unconventional research projects with the potential to create or overturn fundamental paradigms.” In addition, the scientific team leaders have received recent, significant funding championed by the LiveLikeLou Foundation and its Scientific Research Committee.
“We are thrilled,” said LiveLikeLou Foundation Chairman WL Gray, Texas Christian ’70. “This is exactly why we support the best contributors to the science of ALS and give them funding to think outside the box.”
Leading the research team is Chris Donnelly, PhD, assistant professor of neurobiology and scientific director of the LiveLikeLou Center for ALS Research at The University of Pittsburgh’s Brain Institute.
Other principal investigators on the project are the 2019 LiveLikeLou Career Development Award team of Veronique Belzil, PhD, from the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, and Manolis Kellis, PhD, of the Broad Institute of Massachusetts (MIT). Other project leaders include David Lacomis, MD, and Julia Kofler, MD, of Pittsburgh; Dennis Dickson, MD, of the Mayo Clinic; and Myriam Heiman, PhD, of MIT.
“The Career Development Award is specifically designed to support emerging ALS researchers,” explained LiveLikeLou Foundation Vice Chairman Gaylon Morris, Southwestern ’87. “We fund the most promising researchers early in their careers to help them with projects that are unique to the field. We also expect them to collaborate with scientists outside of their expertise and institutions.”
Morris leads the foundation’s Scientific Research Committee, made up of esteemed ALS experts from the University of Arizona, the Barrow Institute of Neurological Science, and the University of Michigan. The committee meets monthly to assess and propose ALS research investments to the Foundation’s board that can make a unique impact on ALS science.
“This NIH grant,” Morris said, “is rewarding confirmation that we made great selections of scientists and projects to support, and our funding is making a difference.”
“Our donors from Phi Delta Theta can be proud,” he added. “We are investing the funds they raise in future therapies and cures for ALS.”
Read the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC announcement of Dr. Donnelly’s winning the NIH Transformative Research Award of Dr. Donnelly at the LiveLikeLou Center for ALS Research at this link.