ALS Multidisciplinary Clinic

The mission of the Mass General Dr. Lisa Krivickas ALS Research Fund is to honor Lisa Krivickas with an annual ALS Invited Lecture, and support research into the cause, rehabilitation, and cure of ALS.

The Dr. Lisa Krivickas ALS Research Fund
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Lisa S. Krivickas, MD, was a talented scholar, compassionate clinician, loving friend, caring mentor, and colleague whose devotion to her patients and to furthering ALS research were an inspiration to all who knew her. On September 22, 2009, Lisa died of ALS, leaving behind her loving family and with the faith they would one day all be reunited.

In honor of the trust that Lisa and her family placed in her colleagues at Mass General as they supervised her care and treatment from her initial diagnosis through the palliative care stages at the end of her life, Mass. General Hospital has donated $50,000 in the name of her dearly loved children, Brooke and Chase, to establish the Dr. Lisa Krivickas ALS Research Fund as tribute to Lisa.

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Researcher and Clinician

From early on, Lisa was drawn to the interplay of muscle and nerve, which she ultimately made into her career as researcher and clinician. As a teenager, she was a champion gymnast and was named a GTE Academic All American in gymnastics. After graduating with distinction from Cornell University School of Engineering, she attended Harvard Medical School, where she was drawn to physical medicine and rehabilitation. Her early focus was on sports medicine; she served as a physician for both local and national teams, and was elected to the Board of Trustees of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Lisa was also drawn early on to the interplay between patient care and research, a focus she brought to bear in her work on the rehabilitative care of ALS patients. Her lab research investigated the properties of single muscle fibers in both health and disease, while in the clinic she led studies of new treatments for ALS, work that has furthered the goal of finding a cure for the disease. Lisa continued to care for patients until shortly before her death, always placing their care and concerns well before hers.

A colleague said of her, "What absolutely shines incandescently is the vision of her as a highly intelligent clinician-scientist with a heart the size of an amphitheater, a doctor with enormous compassion, and really skilled in the care of patients. The image that comes to mind when I think of her is keen intelligence and grace, with the dignity of her patients foremost."

Another noted, "One of the things that was a true testament to her spirit was that, even after she was diagnosed and had informed her patients, she continued to come to clinic and be a doctor. She never lost sight of what her passion was. She was still there for her patients."

In her final months, Lisa continued her commitment to furthering ALS research by volunteering to be the first ALS patient to receive an experimental and risky treatment with an untested therapy called RNAi. Her willingness to undergo the burden of surgery and its subsequent complications truly spoke to her dedication to the broader ALS community, both patients and researchers.

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Lisa touched many in her work as both mentor and colleague. Two stories may illustrate the dedication and friendship she brought to each of her relationships.

Researcher and Clinician

Dorothy Weiss, MD, EdM

"It was Lisa who sparked my interest in neuromuscular medicine. The most striking thing about her was the sincerity of her mentorship—she spent a lot of time learning about and educating her trainees, supporting them in their interests, and teaching them about hers, and she was a very enthusiastic teacher. She had a fantastic ability to discern strengths and the areas where I needed more work, and to nurture both.

"She told me, "I want you to do the work that I've been doing." To me, that was the biggest source of encouragement, and honor, that a mentor could give their trainee.

"I learned primarily from her by her role modeling. Her patients knew how much she cared about them. That was the quality of being a physician that I wanted to emulate. There was no patient who needed too much or asked the wrong question, or was too difficult to handle, and anyone who was "difficult" was someone whose challenges deserved to be addressed more specifically."

The value of Lisa's mentorship moved Dr. Weiss to begin a mentoring program in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, which was named the Lisa S. Krivickas Resident-Attending Mentorship Program. "Her memory continues there, in a program that really reflects something she believed in."

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Lisa touched many in her work as both mentor and colleague. Two stories may illustrate the dedication and friendship she brought to each of her relationships.

Researcher and Clinician

Greg Carter, MD

"I knew Lisa for over 20 years and we collaborated on many research projects aimed at improving the quality of life and care of people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. I can honestly say she was truly an amazing person: phenomenally intelligent, warm and caring, and a loyal friend.

"Tragically as Lisa's own battle with ALS was nearing an end, another dear friend of ours passed away from lymphoma…I called to tell her the sad news. Our phone conversation was brief as she was tired, but she thanked me for letting her know. On Monday, I received this e-mail from her:

Hi Greg
Thanks for sharing the news about Dave. I realize this is a really tough time for you. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for helping me out at the AANEM and for being such an amazing friend and colleague over the years.
Thanks,
Lisa

"The striking thing is that even though she was near the end of her life, she was concerned about how tough things had been for me. That says it all about Lisa, always putting others first. She was truly a one of a kind, unique and simply awesome person. She continues to inspire me to this day, and always will."

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Among friends and family

Lisa brought the same compassion, humor and insight that characterized her professional work to her relationships with her friends. She listened, laughed, encouraged, and celebrated with them, sharing her love of life with those who were lucky enough to know her. Her pastor at Hope Christian Church put it this way: "One of the best gifts God gives us is the people who enrich our lives. Lisa was "the people" –she was someone who enriched people's lives."

Lisa was proud of her many accomplishments, but she was most proud of her two children, Brooke and Chase. In the words of a colleague and friend, "She had these two kids who she just thought walked on water, and appropriately so. She was proud of all their talents, she enjoyed their talents, and appreciated their attributes, of how determined, self-reliant, inquisitive and kind they were. She laughed about being quite biased, saying, "I'm sure you hear this from everybody, but my kids really are great." "She also had a lot of confidence that they were very resilient, and that she was leaving her kids with a wonderful father who really loves them, and that they would be so well loved after she was gone."

Make a Donation

Donation Method 1:

Donate now electronically to ALS research.
Under "Tribute Information", please be sure to select "In honor/memory of Lisa Krivickas".

Donation Method 2:

Mail a check made out to "MGH/Dr. Lisa Krivickas ALS Research Fund" to the contact below.

Shawn P. Fitzgibbons
Director of Development, Neurology
Massachusetts General Hospital
165 Cambridge Street, Suite 600
Boston, MA 02114
617-643-0447
sfitzgibbons@partners.org

Donations made by private individuals and foundations are a critical source of funding for ALS research at Massachusetts General Hospital. Federal funding for ALS research is an important but limited resource—in recent years grants have become scarcer and limited in scope to focus on well-established, long-running research projects.

Creative, new ideas for tackling this disease must be funded by other means. Private donors are essential partners for the MGH investigators who are conducting the genetic and stem cell research, drug discovery and basic science that will lead us forward.

Please consider making your gift to today. For more information or questions about alternatives to giving cash like a bequest or gift of stock please contact Shawn Fitzgibbons at the above phone or email.

 

About Lisa Krivickas

We invite you to read more about Lisa on the following pages, through the words and stories of those who knew her.

 
 
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