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The ALS Association and MDA Team Up to Advance ALS Therapy Concept

Major League Baseball’s Commitment to Fighting ALS and

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Spurs Funding

WASHINGTON/CHICAGO, December 3, 2014 — The ALS Association and Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA)  have joined forces to fund a research project aimed at finding a potential therapy for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Both nonprofits are focused on finding treatments and cures for ALS and providing services for those affected with the debilitating, fatal disease.  

The $240,000 award to molecular biologist James Shorter, Ph.D., of Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania was made possible in part by Major League Baseball’s commitment to ALS research and this summer’s viral ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge.”

Shorter’s research is focused on breaking up toxic protein clumps that often occur in nerve cells in patients with ALS. His team will develop compounds to target and break up these clumps. The studies are designed both to enhance basic understanding of protein clumping in ALS and to determine whether targeting this process holds therapeutic potential.

“We’re proud to partner with The ALS Association in support of this innovative research, which could provide critical understanding and new therapeutic possibilities to help those fighting ALS,” said MDA Executive Vice President and Chief Medical and Scientific Officer Valerie Cwik, M.D. “As part of our mission to save and improve lives of those with neuromuscular diseases, we’ve maintained a major focus on funding ALS research and services since the 1950s. We’re determined to strengthen that crucial commitment as we join forces with The ALS Association, working together to accelerate research progress to arrive at definitive therapeutic solutions to benefit those with ALS, their families and caregivers.”

“We are pleased to work with MDA to fund these studies, which will provide greater insight into the disease process and also offer possible new therapies for ALS,” said Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D., M.B.A., Chief Scientist, The ALS Association.

In July, MLB celebrated the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s famed “Luckiest Man” speech by collectively awarding $300,000 to four organizations dedicated to finding treatments and cures for ALS. Soon after, the country was taken by storm when the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge went viral prompting millions to take part in the “ice-water-over-your-head” initiative and donate to ALS organizations.    

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects neurons (nerve cells) in the brain and the spinal cord. Eventually, people with ALS lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which often leads to total paralysis and death within two to five years of diagnosis. There is no cure and no life-prolonging treatments for the disease. 

About The ALS Association

The ALS Association is the only national non-profit organization fighting Lou Gehrig’s disease on every front.  By leading the way in global research, providing assistance for people with ALS through a nationwide network of chapters, coordinating multidisciplinary care through certified clinical care centers, and fostering government partnerships, The Association builds hope and enhances quality of life while aggressively searching for new treatments and a cure.  For more information about The ALS Association, visit our website at

About MDA

The Muscular Dystrophy Association is the world’s leading nonprofit health agency dedicated to saving and improving the lives of people with muscle disease, including muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neuromuscular diseases. It does so by funding worldwide research to find treatments and cures; by providing comprehensive health care services and support to MDA families nationwide; and by rallying communities to fight back through advocacy, fundraising and local engagement.

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Roxan Olivas
MDA Vice President  — Public Relations & Community Programs
(520) 529-5317

Brian Frederick
The ALS Association
(202) 465-8800