Alex was born in Uglich, Russia, and was adopted by Becky and Marshall Gravdahl. His mother is an artist and he began creating art in a variety of materials along with his brother Pasha, also from Russia. Alex also enjoys photography and playing the piano which he began at age three. He has won numerous awards for his artwork and photography at local fairs and festivals. He is currently selling a CD of his piano performances and selling his artwork in hopes of raising one million dollars for MDA.
Barbara has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Sam Houston State University and a master’s in mass communications from Louisiana State University. She began painting in 2011 after taking an art class. Several of her works were featured in Quest magazine (spring 2011 issue) in the article “An accidental Artist: Let Yourself Play!” Barbara and her husband Jim travel frequently and write articles about accessibility, accommodations, and other travel subjects. They are regular contributors to Quest.
Les became a full-time artist at the age of 50. Unable to hold a paintbrush, he relied on his acclaimed "drip method" of painting. By dripping and pouring pools of different colors onto a canvas and maneuvering it with his hands, Les produced amazing patterns and dynamic images. This painting was donated to the MDA Art Collection in October of 2012 by Mr. & Mrs. John Victor whose family knew Les.
In its summer 2013 round of research grant awards, the Muscular Dystrophy Association aims to catalyze research progress in a dozen neuromuscular diseases, with an eye toward applying that knowledge to related muscle diseases, as well.
“A large number of our grants are investigating new therapeutic technologies,” notes Jane Larkindale, MDA's vice president of research. “These are 'platform' technologies, where successes can be transferred well beyond the specific disease in which they are developed and tested.”
Peter Hiesinger, associate professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, was awarded an MDA research grant totaling $300,000 over a period of three years to investigate the causes of type 2B Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT2B).
Charlotte Sumner, associate professor of neurology and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md., was awarded an MDA research grant totaling $300,000 over a period of three years to study the effects of the gene that causes one form of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT).
Kleopas Kleopa, professor at the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics in Nicosia, Cyprus, was awarded an MDA research grant totaling $280,945 over a period of three years to develop gene therapy in a mouse model of X-linked Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT).
An MDA-supported trial of high-dose ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in the type 1A form of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) (CMT1A) did not find a benefit for this treatment, although it appeared safe and was generally well-tolerated. There were no serious adverse events judged to be related to the study drug.