The Symp Awards 2019: Highlights from Perth

On top of all the sharing of research and networking, the International Symposium is a time to celebrate the huge achievements of individuals/teams that contribute to the ALS/MND community. There are too many outstanding and dedicated individuals to mention but some are recognised through several awards. Here we present the awards and the winners of the 30th International Symposium – warmest congratulations to all for their successes.Read More »

Professor Ammar Al-Chalabi wins prestigious prize

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.Read More »

Deserved recognition

At the end of the opening session of the International Symposium on ALS/MND, two members of the MND research community were recognised for their contribution to the field.

Professor Orla Hardiman, from Trinity College, Dublin is this year’s recipient of the Forbes Norris Award. Presented by Dee Forbes Norris, this award recognises care and compassion in the study and management of MND/ALS. It is awarded by the International Alliance of the ALS/MND in consultation with the World Federation of Neurology. Prof Hardiman accepted the award saying “I’m not normally lost for words, but to use a local expression, I’m gobsmacked”. She paid tribute to her colleagues throughout her career and in particular to what she described as as her formative years in Boston, USA, working with Professor Bob Brown Jnr.

It was a privilege to witness the first presentation of an Institute Paulo Gontijo (IPG) Young Investigator award at the Symposium. Following a moving speech from Paulo’s daughter Marcela, Professor Mamede de Carvalho, chair of the awarding panel announced that the unanimous decision was to give the award to Dr Aaron Gitler of University of Pennsylvania.

“I’m honoured and humbled to accept this award” commented Dr Gitler. “The ALS field is experiencing a revolution, with paradigm changing discoveries even in the last few months – it is good to be a part of it”.

He gave a brief overview of the research that led to this award. The work has been conducted in the most basic of organisms – yeast. Without a brain and spinal cord, looking at yeast may seem an unusual way to study MND Dr Gitler acknowledged. However, as his talk demonstrated, yeast are an excellent model for understanding a common cellular sign of many neurodegenerative diseases – accumulation of proteins. A modifier of protein that accumulates in the yeast model led the way to identifying a link with a protein called Ataxin2 in MND.

Read our official day one symposium press release on our website.