Professor Ammar Al-Chalabi wins prestigious prize

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Huge congratulations to Professor Ammar Al-Chalabi for winning the prestigious Sheila Essey Award at the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) research conference taking place in Vancouver, Canada.

Professor Al-Chalabi is an MND Association funded researcher and Professor of Neurology and Complex Disease Genetics at King’s College London. He is also the Director of our MND Care and Research Centre at King’s.

The Sheila Essey Award is jointly given by the AAN and the ALS Association in the USA, and recognises an individual who has made significant research contributions in the search for the cause, prevention of, and cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, a type of MND).

Prof Al-Chalabi is receiving the award for his role in helping us learn more about the complex causes of MND, including the role of genetics in the non-familial form of MND.

“It is a wonderful acknowledgement of the work the present and past members of my team have done in ALS/MND research,” Prof Al-Chalabi said.

Prof Ammar Al-Chalabi, King’s College London

“I found out I had won by email, which I had checked on my phone while on my way to teach my medical students, so I was very excited and smiling a lot!”.

As part of the prize, Prof Al-Chalabi has been awarded $50,000 to continue his research efforts into MND.

Explaining what he planned to use the money for, Prof Al-Chalabi said: “It will help to pump prime future studies and support early stage researchers to become fully fledged investigators too, both vital steps in our fight against MND.”

Building on early accolades

This is not the first international ALS research prize awarded to Prof Al-Chalabi. In 1999 he was awarded the MND Association Charcot Young Investigator Award for his PhD research on the genetic risk factors for ALS.

Since then he has built an impressive research portfolio and published academic papers in leading science and medical journals. He frequently presents his research at international conferences on neurology and MND and is also involved in nurturing the next generation of MND researchers.

Prof Al-Chalabi’s work has covered many areas of MND research, from learning more about the types of MND and their classification, to developing an app which will alert specialist staff when someone with MND enters A&E.

Prof Al-Chalabi and his team at the Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute (King’s College London) have helped to identify many of the genes involved in MND development. They are now part of two large studies looking for MND genes, including Project MinE – an international project analysing the genomes of over 20,000 people. As part of this study, he is using samples from the UK MND DNA bank that the Association administer.

Away from the lab Prof Al-Chalabi is works hard to raise awareness of MND, often undertaking media interviews about his work.

For more information on Prof Al-Chalabi’s research read our ‘Research we Fund’ information sheet.

Press release on AAN website

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