The ALS Scholars in Therapeutics program engages clinician-scientists and post-doctoral fellows, in their home institution, embarking on their career path to contribute their talents in the ALS field. By engaging motivated and creative individuals with a passion for bringing treatments to people living with ALS, we expand the community of experts and expedite therapy development. We believe strongly in identifying, supporting and mentoring the next generation of researchers continuing this tradition through the ALS Scholars program.

Meet the 2021 Scholars

The optional industry experience in year two focuses on education in translational science and provide industry related training in therapy development.

ALS Scholars become an integral part of the Healey & AMG Center for ALS at Mass General and benefit from mentorship of world-renowned scientists and clinicians. The scholars engage in Healey Center meetings, learn first-hand about therapy development for ALS and play a role in novel approaches in development to expedite the clinical trial process. Scholars also have the opportunity to engage with people living with ALS. In addition, scholars interested in understanding the drug development process from an industry perspective will benefit from an optional six-month internship in industry during the second year of their scholarship.

Research Focus

To complement the ongoing efforts at the Healey Center for ALS, postdoctoral fellows and clinician scientists focusing on translational research will be considered. Example areas of research include but are not limited to:

  1. Biomarkers Studies: Scholars focusing on this area of research will benefit from available biorepositories to further their discovery work in identifying novel biomarkers or for established biomarkers, work with the clinical teams to design clinical studies to confirm whether a biomarker can demonstrate a biological effect of promising therapeutics or speed diagnosis.
  2. Genetic Studies: Scholars focused on research to confirm or identify new pathways of relevance to target for therapies.
  3. Drug Development: Scholars working in all phases of the drug development process from target identification to IND-enabling studies will be considered. Examples include scholars developing novel model systems such as induced-pluripotent cells lines carrying ALS-linked mutations and using these to identify new compounds.
  4. Clinical Trials: Scholars engaged in clinical trial design working closely with the Healey Center and Platform Trials will be considered.

Available resources: NEALS Biorepository, Target ALS post-mortem Tissue Bank, Answer ALS resources e.g. IPS lines banked at Cedar Sinai.

Eligibility

  • Candidates with PhD or MD with strong publication track record and mentorship from their principal investigator. Successful scholars would remain at their home institution
  • International applicants are encouraged to apply to enhance geographic diversity
  • The ALS focused proposal should have good scientific rationale and largely be developed by the fellow with guidance from his/her mentor
  • Fellows will be considered if they have completed their specialist qualification (i.e., US Residency; Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, etc) no more than 5 years prior to the start of this award; Eligibility for this award is still based on the date the candidate attained their specialist qualification

Review Criteria

Applications are be reviewed and scored based on the following five criteria:

  1. Strength of Mentor: Ideally a principal investigator in committed to the field of ALS
  2. Strength of Fellow: Good publication track record, evidence for independent thinking and a creative approach to problem solving. For clinicians, applicants should demonstrate ability and promise as a clinician scientist based on prior record of achievement. Both clinician fellows and post-doctoral fellows should provide a career plan, letters of reference and NIH biosketch
  3. Project Feasibility: While preliminary data is not essential in the application, sufficient supporting data for the proposed aims is required to ensure that the project is feasible and can be achieved within the two-year time frame
  4. Scientific Plan and Rationale: The research plan must include experimental details, innovation, significance, and the translational impact of the proposal.
  5. Research Environment: Quality and nature of training, institutional, departmental and mentor specific training environment

Budget

ALS Scholars are awarded $150,000 per year total (direct and indirect costs) for maximum 2 years. These funds can be used for salary support and supplies relevant to the outlined project. This may include up to $2,500 per year in travel costs to one relevant ALS meeting. Year one will be funded 100% through Healey Center philanthropy funding. Year two may be funded by industry and is contingent on pairing the Scholar with one of the program’s industry partners. Industry partners will award up to $150,000 in annual support of the scholar placed with their company for the industry experience in year two.

Reporting

It is expected that the Scholars will submit semi-annual financial and progress reporting to the Healey Center and attend and present at one of the semi-annual Science Advisory Council meetings.

Application Due Dates

Applications for 2021 are now closed.

For further information, please contact HealeyCenterforALS@mgh.harvard.edu.