Les Turner ALS Center at Northwestern Medicine
The mission of the Les Turner ALS Center at Northwestern Medicine is to strive for a future without ALS by accelerating leading-edge research while providing life-enhancing treatment to people living with ALS.
Since 1979, the Les Turner ALS Foundation has supported ALS research at Northwestern University. This research has played a critical role in moving the field forward, improving understanding of the causes of ALS and developing strategies to slow progression of the disease.
Today, under the leadership of Robert G. Kalb, MD, the Joan and Paul Rubschlager Professor and Chief of the Division of Neuromuscular Medicine, the Les Turner ALS Center comprises more than 70 members working across Northwestern's Chicago and Evanston campuses, uniting expertise across scientific disciplines to generate new insights and significant advances in the fight against ALS.
An International Leader in ALS Research
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine is known worldwide for groundbreaking medical research. As part of the Ken and Ruth Davee Department of Neurology, the Les Turner ALS Center unites all ALS research and educational activities at the university with the comprehensive multidisciplinary care provided at the Lois Insolia ALS Clinic and Northwestern Medicine, which also offers access to ALS clinical trials and research.
In 1979, the Les Turner ALS Foundation dedicated the first ALS-focused research laboratory at Northwestern University Medical School, under the direction of Dr. Burk Jubelt. Since then, the Foundation has directly funded over $32 million in ALS research and clinical care at the Les Turner ALS Center at Northwestern Medicine, as well as millions more in indirect funding.
The Les Turner ALS Center also hosts one of the world's leading annual events for scientists, clinicians and people living with ALS to share research insights about the disease, the Les Turner Symposium on ALS.
“Many important insights have come from Les Turner ALS Center laboratories," notes Dr. Kalb. "These include the identification of new ALS causing genes, an increased understanding of the pathological events that lead to loss of upper motor neurons, insights into nuclear membrane biology, and motor neuron death.”
Among the transformative discoveries at the Les Turner ALS Center was Dr. Teepu Siddique's 1993 co-discovery of SOD-1, the first genetic mutation linked to cause ALS. In 2009, the FUS gene was discovered as part of a national collaboration directed by Dr. Siddique. Advances like these have laid essential groundwork for targeted therapies in ALS, such as in 2023, when QalsodyTM (tofersen) became the first FDA-approved treatment for a genetic form of ALS.
With nearly $1 million in ALS grants awarded in 2023, the Les Turner ALS Center continues to bring fresh ideas into the field and foster collaboration among talented and dedicated researchers who are working to create a world free of ALS.
Investing in the Future of ALS Research
Jointly with Northwestern Medicine, the Les Turner ALS Foundation has embarked on a campaign to raise $10 million over the course of ten years to permanently endow the Les Turner ALS Center. Currently, we’ve raised over $5 million toward that endowment.
Additionally, the Foundation has committed to funding at least $1 million annually to the Lois Insolia ALS Clinic and ALS research conducted across all disciplines of Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine.
The support of our visionary donors makes this life-changing research possible.
Joan and Paul Rubschlager: A Transformational Gift
The Les Turner ALS Foundation is honored and grateful for the generosity of Joan and Paul Rubschlager who donated $3 million to the endowment at the Les Turner ALS Center at Northwestern Medicine. The Rubschlagers are native Chicagoans and have been married for more than 50 years. For 100 years, the family operated the Rubschlager Baking Corporation founded in 1913. They have been active supporters of the Foundation since the 1980’s after Paul lost his father to ALS in 1975.
“When Paul’s father was diagnosed with ALS, there was nowhere to turn,” said Joan Rubschlager. “We want to make sure that no family ever feels that they have no one to help them. By supporting the Les Turner ALS Center, we are ensuring that there will always be hope and help for those who need it most."
Vickie and Loren Semler Research Fund
The Semler Research Fund is dedicated to funding research until a cure for ALS is found. “Vickie and I would like to know that this important research is still being done, even after we are gone," said Loren Semler. "We hope our support will inspire others to do the same.”
Unfortunately, Vickie lost her battle with ALS on June 28, 2016. Knowing scientists at Northwestern Medicine are working tirelessly to find a treatment gives the Semler family hope for others who are suffering with this disease.