The money Phi Delta Theta brothers raised for ALS research through the Iron Phi program in 2017 will be put to work this fall with the inaugural LiveLikeLou Emerging ALS Investigators Forum. The Forum will be held at The University of Pittsburgh’s Brain Institute from August 26-28, 2018, and it will be a closed-door, invitation-only sharing event where the most promising young scientists in the ALS research field throughout the United States will come together to collaborate and share ideas and their research methodologies. The $100,000 grant to create the Forum is the first ALS research grant from the newly-formed LiveLikeLou Foundation, which expects to invest much more in the years to come.
The Board of Trustees for The LiveLikeLou Foundation learned earlier this year that the competition for scientists to get funding for their bright ideas is tough, often leaving them without sufficient support to pursue new research critical to make progress on the disease. Granting funds for this forum marked the priority set by the LiveLikeLou Board and Phi Delta Theta… ‘to leave ALS better than we found it’.
“The best way for us to make an impact on ALS research is to invest in the up-and-coming researchers; those who don’t yet have funding for their projects but have lots of important ideas and want to share with others in the field,” said WL Gray, Texas Christian ’70 and Chairman of The LiveLikeLou Foundation Board of Trustees. “Phi Delta Theta brothers should feel very proud about the impact we are going to have on ALS.”
The Forum will convene approximately 30 principal investigators and some laboratory assistants from across the country working the fields of biology and neurosciences, and will include both scientific lectures as well as breakout sessions and open discussion… all in the name of more quickly finding the causes and cures for ALS. The University of Pittsburgh was chosen to receive this first grant because of its history with LiveLikeLou, which began in 2015 when Phi Delta Theta Brother Neil Alexander helped establish the University’s LiveLikeLou Center for ALS Research lab with a $2.5 million pledge. In that short time, the lab has developed two patents pending and one more in the works!
Dr. Christopher Donnelly, Professor of Neurobiology and head of the Live Like Lou Center for ALS Research at the University of Pittsburgh’s Brain Institute
The LiveLikeLou Board of Trustees is also launching a volunteer scientific committee later this year, whose focus will be to identify other promising research efforts nationwide to which more grants will be made.
“Actually, this Forum is just the beginning. Our goal, as we raise more funds for ALS research, is to support innovative research by partnering with several scientific institutions over the next several years,” said Gaylon Morris, Southwestern ’88 and LiveLikeLou Foundation Board Vice Chairman. “Every dollar we grant to ALS research moves the needle on this confusing disease, and other related disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s Diseases.”
In 2017, 452 members of Phi Delta Theta raised $215,000+ through the Iron Phi program, a program that challenges individuals to complete an athletic challenge of their choice while raising funds to advance the ALS cause and Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity. Ninety five brothers earned the title of Iron Phi in 2017, raising at least $1,000 and accomplishing their athletic challenge. Moving forward in 2018, dollars raised by Iron Phi participants for ALS will support children from families affected by ALS through academic scholarships for higher education and summer camp experiences.
“To be able to show current and future Iron Phi participants that their efforts are truly making an impact on ALS is an amazing thing. As our participants train for their athletic events and reach out to their networks for support, having this in the back of their minds will only drive success,” said Steve Good, Vice President of Growth & Communication at Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity.
In 2017, Phi Delta Theta took a significant step to broaden its reach and deepen its impact on the fight against Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), the devastating disease named for Brother Lou Gehrig through the launch of The LiveLikeLou Foundation, a stand-alone 501c3 not-for-profit entity with a national scope. Neil and Suzanne Alexander originally established LiveLikeLou in 2011 as a grassroots fund within The Pittsburgh Foundation when Neil, a University of Pittsburgh Phi Delt, was diagnosed with ALS. Phi Delta Theta encourages its members and chapters to support the mission of The LiveLikeLou Foundation through their philanthropic activities.