Project ALS, along with the rest of the world, has faced serious headwinds this year—but we regrouped, focused our priorities, and have taken significant strides in moving cutting-edge scientific research toward rational investigational therapies for people with ALS. At this year’s Tomorrow is Tonight fall gala, which will be held online for the first time next Thursday, October 22nd at 7:30pm, our research leadership and collaborators will speak to Project ALS research progress during a global pandemic.
Even when COVID cases spiked in New York this March, and research labs at Columbia were shut down, the team at the Project ALS Therapeutics Core at Columbia (THE CORE) pulled together to keep important studies running. Per Dr. Emily Lowry, Director of Internal Operations at THE CORE: “We have a lot of essential workers at THE CORE who came into [Columbia] despite the shutdown over the past spring and summer. A lot of them are patient-facing—they are clinicians who work with ALS patients—and a lot of them are laboratory technicians who put their own personal safety at risk to make sure that our years-long experiments were able to continue. One came in even after her brother died of COVID. I just want to give a huge thank you to them and acknowledge their hard work.”
Next week’s event will honor the Project ALS family who has kept critical research moving forward in an unprecedented time, including:
- Alejandro Chavez, Emily Lowry, and Hynek Wichterle (Columbia) will give an update on new drug screening models in ALS, and discuss why we must invest in better disease models in order to develop meaningful therapies for ALS.
- Members of the prosetin development team, including medicinal chemist Dr. Brent Stockwell, clinical trialist Dr. Jinsy Andrews, and regulatory expert Dr. Kevin Phelan, will join THE CORE’s director of external operations Erin Fleming to give an update on prosetin’s progress toward clinical trials.
- An extraordinary team including mother and advocate Lori Hermstad, Charles River Laboratories Distinguished Scientist Dr. Lauren Black, Ionis Pharmaceuticals Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Frank Bennett and Director Dr. Paymaan Jafar-Nejad, neurologist Dr. Neil Shneider, and Project ALS co-founder & president Meredith Estess, will describe how a labor of love spurred by family tragedy has developed into a full clinical development program for FUS-ALS.
The virtual gala is hosted by actor and longtime Project ALS friend Richard Kind, and features a family dinner prepared by celebrity chefs Claudia Fleming, Rebecca Charles, Tom Colicchio, and Bobby Flay. Claudia Fleming has been a fierce advocate and effective fundraiser for Project ALS research since her late husband, chef Gerry Hayden, was diagnosed with ALS in 2012.