Sean M. Healey International Prize for Innovation in ALS awarded at virtual 2020 ALS/MND Meeting

BOSTON—The Sean M. Healey & AMG Center for ALS at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) awarded the 2nd annual Sean M. Healey International Prize for Innovation in ALS to Project MinE for developing the largest single disease whole genome sequencing project in the world. The award was virtually presented to the team on Friday December 11th, 2020, at the 31st International Symposium on ALS/MND by Merit Cudkowicz, MD, MSc, director of the Healey Center at Mass General and Regan Asnes Healey from the Healey Family.

The award recipients include Professor Ammar Al-Chalabi of Kings College London, Professor Jan H. Veldink of University Medical Center Utrecht, Professor Orla Hardiman of Trinity College Dublin, Professor Phillip Van Damme of University of Leuven, Belgium, Professor Leonard H. van den Berg of University Medical Center Utrecht, Professor Jonathan D. Glass of Emory University, Professor John Landers of University of Massachusetts Medical School and Ms. Evy Reviers of EUpALS, Belgium. The team was awarded the Healey Center Prize for Innovation for successfully sequencing the genomes of 22,500 people and increasing understanding of the genetic variations that alter the risk of ALS as well as other clinical aspects of the disease. The impact of this genome sequencing project has been tremendous as the genes that were identified from this effort are currently and actively used in diagnostic tests, gene therapy and drug discovery efforts in the field.

“We believe in accelerating research through open global collaboration and sharing of data and ideas. The team leading Project MinE exemplifies those principles through global collaboration and ensuring that the data collected from the participants were made available to all ALS researchers. This project accelerated the discovery of many new genes and pathways that will lead to new treatments for people with ALS,” said Cudkowicz, who is also chief of Department of Neurology at MGH.

“We are very grateful to the Healey Center for this prestigious award for the Project MinE consortium. Project MinE is a groundbreaking, truly global and hugely innovative consortium which has driven ALS research forward and inspired many similar projects. It combines the vision of patients, the expertise of ALS clinicians, the reach of ALS charities and the use of crowdfunding to make something which seemed impossible in scope, expense and feasibility - sequencing the genomes of thousands of people - apparently straightforward, bringing together a partnership of researchers and patients to make vital discoveries for ALS,” said Leonard H. van den Berg, PhD, Project MinE and University Medical Center Utrecht.

The annual Sean M. Healey International Prize for Innovation in ALS is a global award celebrating excellence in research for an individual or team that catalyzes exceptional discoveries leading to a transformative advance in therapy development in ALS. The Prize has been made possible through the generosity of Affiliated Manager Group, Inc. (AMG), and the Healey family and friends.

For more information about the Sean M. Healey and AMG Center for ALS, please visit the website.