The LiveLikeLou Foundation has announced its second Career Development Award for ALS Research, this time providing Assistant Professor Aaron Haeusler, PhD, of the Thomas Jefferson University Department of Neurosciences, with a one-time $50,000 grant. The Career Development Award is intended to support the careers of emerging scientists to help move their breakthrough ideas to the next level of large-scale funding for the fatal condition of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Funds raised for ALS research by Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity members are making a difference.
“Our research grants are building the pipeline of new ALS science and encouraging emerging researchers,” said LiveLikeLou Foundation Director Suzanne Alexander. “It’s basically an investment in the development of future therapies we hope will come.”
Dr. Haeusler’s study, “Epigenetic strategies for potential attenuation of C9orf72-linked ALS and FTD” will develop gene silencing mechanisms in the inherited form of ALS, allowing researchers to alter key DNA factors that are known to lead to early neuron death in ALS patients, possibly leading to a therapeutic strategy to stop genetic causes of ALS. The research received promising early results over the past twelve months. The Foundation’s Career Development Award will expand Dr. Haeusler’s research team and increase their ability to analyze more data, positioning the research for a major National Institutes of Health (“NIH”) grant application in the near future.
LiveLikeLou Foundation Vice Chair Gaylon Morris (Southwestern ’87) leads the Foundation’s Scientific Research Committee, a team of esteemed ALS research experts from across North America, that serves as its scientific and research advisors, including reviewing Career Development Award proposals. The award, he said, “is the perfect vehicle for helping emerging scientists on the cusp of major breakthroughs to strengthen their research so they can successfully compete for those large, multi-year NIH grants.”
“Support like this enables us to push the envelope of discovery and rapidly advance novel ALS treatment strategies,” Dr. Haeusler said. “We are really grateful.”
In 2019 the Career Development Award was granted to Veronique Belzil, PhD, of The Mayo Clinic, to help fund a two-year study in collaboration with Manolis Belzil, PhD, of The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition to its Career Development Award, The LiveLikeLou Foundation has supported ALS research and scientists by underwriting The Emerging ALS Researchers Forum and Learning Series since 2016, and by helping establish The LiveLikeLou Center for ALS Research at The University of Pittsburgh’s Brain Institute.
“A career as a new researcher for ALS is tough,” Suzanne said. “It’s hard to get funding for basic science, especially when the disease you are researching is competing against other neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Muscular Dystrophy. LiveLikeLou and our partners at Phi Delta Theta are very motivated to keep these researchers in the field and help expand our knowledge about this dreadful disease.”