OXFORD, OHIO — The Ohio Alpha Chapter of Phi Delta Theta at Miami University has established a unique collaboration with their university administration to create a pilot program with the LiveLikeLou Foundation, engaging academic leaders and students in awareness, research, and service for the cause of neurodegeneration, including Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The Leaving it Better project kicked off with a successful gathering in November and will involve annual enrichment and awareness events campus-wide. The chapter has committed to a $100,000 fundraising goal, and Miami University President Gregory Crawford, PhD., has agreed that the school will provide matching funds to support the program.
The vision for this program began with Ohio Alpha re-founding President Alex Kalix’s meeting with Dr. Crawford in 2020, who was intrigued by the group’s commitment to the cause of ALS and research to find treatments and cures.
“Dr. Crawford was really impressed,” Alex said. “He cares about the cause, was interested in a Greek organization contributing to an important academic program, and he wanted to challenge us to make an impact that would also benefit the school.”
“Our brothers are truly excited to represent LiveLikeLou and this project with other student organizations,” he added.
Ohio Alpha re-founding President Alex Kalix
Miami University Professor of Biology and Director for Undergraduate Research Joyce Fernandes, PhD, is the academic lead for the Leaving It Better project. She explained that directors from departments of biology, engineering, kinesiology, nursing, social work, speech, and others will work collaboratively to expose students to the emerging needs of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Dementia, aging, paralysis, and related childhood diseases.
She added that, in addition to the academic events, students will have opportunities to apply for interdisciplinary research awards, such as the Miami University Undergraduate Summer Scholars Program, and apply for volunteer opportunities that serve people in the local community living with neurodegeneration.
“The goal,” Dr. Fernandes explained, “is to inspire contributions to the field of neurodegenerative discovery and care. We hope more students will enter this growing field as researchers, inventors, and care providers.”
Miami University Professor of Biology and Director for Undergraduate Research Joyce Fernandes, Ph.D
LiveLikeLou Foundation Vice Chairman and Scientific Research Committee Chair Gaylon Morris, Southwestern ’87, said, “We were seeking a creative way to harness Ohio Alpha’s enthusiasm for the cause of ALS and Miami University’s interest in broadening the Phi Delts’ impact on campus.”
“The Leaving It Better project is a great vehicle to achieve these goals and actively engage a new generation of researchers and health care specialists in meeting this unmet need,” he said.
The kickoff event on November 11, featured remarks by LiveLikeLou Foundation co-founder and trustee Suzanne Alexander, and keynote speaker Arthur S. Levine, MD, dean emeritus, School of Medicine at The University of Pittsburgh and executive director, University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute. Dr. Levine’s remarks were followed by a panel discussion from Miami University program directors to discuss how their respective schools will be impacted by the growing trends of neurodegeneration.
See the Leaving It Better kickoff event video at this link.
Arthur S. Levine, MD, dean emeritus, School of Medicine at The University of Pittsburgh and executive director, University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute