Boston—The Sean M. Healey & AMG Center for ALS at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), ALS Finding a Cure® and FightMND selected three recipients for their global two-year ALS Scholars in Therapeutics program. The program received an outstanding pool of global applications from 4 countries. This year’s selected recipients listed alphabetically are Dylan Galloway, PhD of the Washington University School of Medicine, Jacob Mann, PhD of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and Roberta Piovesana, PhD of the University of Montreal.
Dylan Galloway, PhD is recognized for his research in identifying microRNAs as novel regulators of differential motor neuron susceptibility. He earned his PhD in Neuroscience at the Memorial University of Newfoundland where he researched how microRNAs modify neuroinflammation and brain repair in multiple sclerosis. Dr. Galloway is currently pursuing postdoctoral training at Washington University in St. Louis with Dr. Timothy Miller. Dylan aims to gain novel experience investigating neurodegeneration and RNA biology through the use of in vivo and in vitro neurodegeneration models, as well as mastering cutting-edge molecular biology techniques to investigate and therapeutically target RNA. With this, he hopes to define post-transcriptional regulators of neurodegeneration, including microRNAs, with the intent of developing novel RNA-targeting therapeutics.
Jacob (Jake) Mann, PhD is recognized for his research in investigating the efficacy of microtubule-targeting agents and uORF ASOs to target NEK1 loss-of-function in ALS. He earned his PhD in Neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh under the mentorship of Dr. Christopher Donnelly, where he studied the role of RNA in the regulation of aberrant phase transitions/aggregation of ALS-linked proteins like TDP-43 and FUS. Currently, Dr. Mann is pursing postdoctoral training in Dr. Evangelos Kiskinis’ lab at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. There, he has helped to discover a function for NEK1 in the maintenance of a key architectural component of neurons, called microtubules, in human iPSC-derived motor neurons. His research focuses on understanding how loss-of-functions mutations in the novel ALS gene NEK1 contribute to ALS pathogenesis. Jake hopes to continue to work to uncover the mechanisms underlying newly discovered genetic forms of ALS, such as NEK1, in an attempt to discover new ways to tackle these genetic disorders in a patient-specific manner.
Roberta Piovesana, PhD is recognized for her work on Neuromuscular Junction (NMJ) and the identification of ALS biomarkers. She earned her Master’s in Medical Biotechnology and later PhD in Cellular and Developmental Biology at the Sapienza, University of Rome, where she established adipose-derived stem cell models that led to the production of Schwann-like cells and their role in axonal support and plasticity. Dr. Piovesana is postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Richard Robitaille’s lab in the Department of Neurosciences at the Université de Montréal. She is currently investigating the role of endocannabinoid CB1 receptors at the NMJ in the regulation of degeneration and reinnervation processes following nerve injury. She is in the process of validating her top biomarker hits that were obtained from proteomic analysis of NMJ-enriched samples from SOD1G37R mice in human samples. Roberta hopes that by understanding NMJ protein dynamism, she can identify new biomarkers that will facilitate earlier diagnosis as well as a better therapeutic strategy for ALS.
The ALS Scholars in Therapeutics program provides funding for 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 optional industry experience in year two. 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.