Boston—The Sean M. Healey & AMG Center for ALS at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), ALS Finding a Cure®, and FightMND have selected three recipients for their global two-year ALS Scholars in Therapeutics program. The program received an outstanding pool of global applications from six countries. This year’s selected recipients listed alphabetically are Jennilee Davidson, PhD, MSc of Macquarie University, Kaya Matson, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania, and Jay Ross, PhD, of Stanford University.

Jennilee Davidson, PhD, is awarded for her work developing a novel TDP-43 degrader therapeutic for ALS. She earned her PhD in Biomedical Science at the MND Research Centre at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia in 2022. Dr. Davidson was promoted to Research Fellow at Macquarie University in 2024 and has served as a key lab-based researcher in developing the cyclin F gene therapy program for ALS in the lab of Professor Roger Chung. In this project, Dr. Davidson will validate and optimize the therapeutic which has been designed to remove abnormal accumulation of TDP-43 in motor neurons, and ultimately develop a continuously self-regulating gene therapy.

Kaya Matson, PhD, is awarded for her work investigating convergent molecular and cellular signatures of microtubule instability in ALS. Dr. Matson received her PhD in Cellular, Molecular, and Developmental Biology and Biophysics from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland in 2023 through the NIH Graduate Partnership Program, and currently serves as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab of Erika Holzbaur, PhD, at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Dr. Matson is working to combine her background in RNA sequencing with new training in the Holzbaur lab, which includes culturing human pluripotent stem cells and live cell imaging to identify the molecular and cellular convergence of multiple ALS mutations on microtubules. This research may uncover a convergent mechanism that gives rise to the characteristic axonal instability in ALS and could potentially lead to new treatments effective across multiple genetic causes of the disease.

Jay Ross, PhD, is awarded for his work defining genetic modifiers and genomic targets of DNA damage caused by the C9orf72 hexanucleotide repeat expansion in ALS. Dr. Ross earned his PhD in Human Genetics at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec in 2023. He currently works as a Postdoctoral Scholar in the lab of Aaron Gitler, PhD, at Stanford University.  Dr. Ross’ research includes the study of biological consequences of genetic variants and their effect on genome instability and vulnerability. For this project, Dr. Ross will test for genes that modify DNA damage levels and pinpoint specific areas of the genome that are damaged, which will ultimately provide new insight into the pathogenesis of ALS thus guiding approaches to remedy DNA damage.

The ALS Scholars in Therapeutics program funds young investigators researching new treatments for people living with ALS. This two-year program is designed to engage physician-scientists and post-doctoral fellows to gain training and experience in therapy development for ALS at their home institution with a unique opportunity to engage with people living with ALS and attend a year-long educational series focused on enhancing their understanding of the drug development process from an industry perspective.. All ALS scholars will be part of the broader Healey & AMG Center, ALS Finding a Cure®, and FightMND’s global community. By engaging motivated and creative individuals with a passion for bringing treatments to people living with ALS, we are expanding the community of experts and expediting therapy development.


About the Sean M. Healey & AMG Center for ALS at Mass General

At the Sean M. Healey & AMG Center for ALS at Mass General, we are committed to bringing together a global network of scientists, physicians, nurses, foundations, federal agencies, and people living with ALS, their loved ones, and caregivers to accelerate the pace of ALS therapy discovery and development.

Launched in November 2018, the Healey & AMG Center, under the leadership of Merit Cudkowicz, MD and a Science Advisory Council of international experts, is reimagining how to develop and test the most promising therapies to treat the disease, identify cures and ultimately prevent it.

With dozens of active clinical trials and lab-based research studies in progress right now, we are ushering in a new phase of ALS treatment and care. Together, we will find the cures.