Friday, December 14, 2018

New ALS center aims to change the field

TACKLING ALS: From left, Peter L. Slavin, MD, MGH president; Cudkowicz and Healey

The MGH is spearheading a revolutionary new approach to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research and care with the opening of a new center, thanks to a $40 million donation – the third largest gift in the hospital’s history.

The gift is driven by Sean Healey, executive chairman of Affiliated Managers Group, Inc. (AMG), along with members of AMG’s Board of Directors and senior management team, supported by The AMG Charitable Foundation. Healey was diagnosed in May 2018 with ALS, a neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain, robbing individuals of the ability to move, speak and ultimately, breathe.

“There has never been a better time for action,” says Merit Cudkowicz, MD, chief of MGH Neurology and director of the Sean M. Healey and AMG Center for ALS at the MGH. “Basic research in ALS has led to the discovery of at least 20 promising therapies. This transformative gift will immediately be put to work to test these therapies in patients and move the successful ones forward toward effective treatments.”

According to Cudkowicz, the Healey Center will bridge the gap between promising discoveries in the lab and effective therapies for patients; support senior scientists by allowing them to focus 100 percent of their time on their research; attract the best minds from around the world; and award grants to forward-thinking innovators from any field to join the cause and find the cure.

“The Healey Center will harness the global research and patient community to expand patient access to trials, deliver personalized care and ultimately deliver the cure for people with the disease,” she says. “The center will benefit people with ALS both locally and globally.”

Through the Healey Center, the MGH will establish the first master protocol trial in ALS, an approach used successfully in cancer research. With this tool, trial speed and efficiency will be increased, providing more treatment options for more patients. The Healey Center also will introduce a science advisory council comprised of experts from the U.S. and across the globe.

“Sean’s determination and that of all our patients inspires us to redouble our efforts to find the cure for this disease,” says Cudkowicz. “Thanks to the resources the Healey Center is providing, we will marshal the community’s collective efforts and fast forward the field.” 



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