Les Turner ALS Center at Northwestern Medicine

Les Turner Symposium on ALS

Register for the 11th Annual Les Turner Symposium on ALS, Monday, November 1, 2021 from 9am to 4pm CT.  The symposium will be held virtually. 

Keynote

Robert H. Brown, Jr., D.Phil, MD

Robert H. Brown, Jr., D.Phil, MD

Presented by Robert H. Brown, Jr., D.Phil, MD; Leo P. and Theresa M. LaChance Chair in Medical Research, Director of the Program in Neurotherapeutics, University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS)

Dr. Brown completed a B.A. in Biophysics (Amherst College, 1969), a D.Phil. in Neurophysiology (Oxford, 1973) and an M.D. (Harvard, 1975). After a neurology residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School (1980), he joined the faculty at the Massachusetts General Hospital where he established the Day Neuromuscular Research Laboratory and co-directed the Neuromuscular Clinic. In 1998, he was awarded tenure as Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. In 2008, he became the chair of neurology at UMass Medical School, where he holds the LaChance Family Chair of Neurology and serves as Director of the ALS Clinic and Director of Neurological Therapeutics.

Dr. Brown has a longstanding research interest in identifying gene defects that underlie ALS and related neuromuscular disorders. With his colleague, Teepu Siddique, MD of the Les Turner ALS Center at Northwestern Medicine, he was a lead member of the team that identified the first ALS gene (SOD1) and, with colleagues, has subsequently participated in identifying several other defective genes in ALS including alsin, dynactin, FUS/TLS, ErbB4 and profilin1. He has identified causative gene defects s in other disorders including limb girdle dystrophy type 2B (dysferlin), hereditary sensory neuropathy (serine palmitoyl-transferase), and hyperkalemic paralysis (skeletal muscle sodium channel). His laboratory team has used insights from these investigations in genetics to generate cell and animal models of each of these disorders. These models have been useful in understanding pathological processes that trigger diseases like ALS and have assisted in therapy development. Most recently, he has initiated trials of gene suppression therapy (SOD1, C9orf72) in non-human primates and now in humans. He has published more than 300 peer-reviewed reports and more than 70 reviews and chapters on these topics. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) and is a past president of the American Neurological Association.

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The Clinical Importance of Motor Neuron Degeneration After Spinal Cord Injury

Colin Franz, MD, PhD

Colin Franz, MD, PhD

Presented by Colin Franz, MD, PhD; Assistant Professor in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Neurology, Shirley Ryan AbilityLabs and Northwestern University

Dr. Franz is a physician and scientist at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and Northwestern University and sees patients at the Lois Insolia ALS Clinic at the Les Turner ALS Center at Northwestern Medicine. His clinical subspecialties include neuromuscular medicine, electrodiagnostic medicine, and neuromuscular ultrasound. He see patients for (i) peripheral nerve injuries, (ii) nerve or tendon transfer rehabilitation, (iii) diaphragm muscle weakness, and (iv) motor neuron diseases such as ALS. He is the director of the Electrodiagnostic (clinical) and Regenerative Neurorehabilitation (research) laboratories at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab hospital. His research is heavily inspired by the patient populations he cares for. His laboratory team takes a highly technology-oriented approach to precision neurorehabilitation. Some of his current studies include transient (resorbable) implanted devices to deliver therapeutics to regenerating axons, to making human neurons derived from patient-derived pluripotent stem cells to determine and isolate how individual genetic factors effect neurotrauma outcomes.

Protein Aggregation and the Development of NU-9 for Upper Motor Neuron Diseases, Including ALS

Richard B. Silverman, PhD

Richard B. Silverman, PhD

Presented by Richard B. Silverman, PhD; Patrick G. Ryan/Aon Professor in the Department of Chemistry, Department of Molecular Biosciences (Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences) and Department of Pharmacology (Feinberg School of Medicine), Northwestern University.

Dr. Silverman is the Patrick G. Ryan/Aon Professor in the Department of Chemistry with courtesy appointments in the Department of Molecular Biosciences (Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences) and Department of Pharmacology (Feinberg School of Medicine). His research is focused on the design, synthesis, and evaluation of small molecules that inhibit enzymes, cancer, and protein aggregation. Target enzymes include GABA aminotransferase for the treatment of epilepsy and addiction, ornithine aminotransferase for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma, and neuronal nitric oxide synthase for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and melanoma. Protein aggregation inhibitors are targeted for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, including ALS. Inactivation mechanisms for molecules designed as irreversible inhibitors are investigated with the use of several mass spectral techniques, X-ray crystallography, and computer modeling. The ultimate goal is to bring small molecules into clinical trials. His research is supported primarily by NIH.

Harnessing the Power of iPSCs and ‘omics to Understand Neurodegenerative Diseases

Michael E. Ward, MD, PhD

Michael E. Ward, MD, PhD

Presented by Michael E. Ward, MD, PhD; Investigator National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Co-Director for iPCS Neurodegenerative Research Initiative (iNDI)

Dr. Ward received his B.S. from Kenyon College in 1999 and MD and PhD. degrees from Washington University in St. Louis in 2007. As a graduate student, he worked in Yi Rao’s lab and studied the regulation of cell migration during neurodevelopment. Following a neurology residency at the University of California in San Francisco, he sub-specialized in behavioral neurology and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Li Gan’s lab studying basic mechanisms of frontotemporal dementia (FTD). As a fellow he received an American Brain Foundation CRTF award and a NIH K08 career development award. In 2015 he joined the NINDS as an Assistant Clinical Investigator, and became an Investigator in 2017. Using human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC)s as a cellular model, his research group focuses on identifying intersecting mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases, with an ultimate goal of developing targeted, disease-modifying therapies for affected patients. In addition to his research efforts, he sees patients with neurodegenerative disorders in the NIH Clinical Center, and co-directs the iPSC Neurodegenerative Research Initiative (iNDI), a large-scale effort to generate and phenotype iPSC models of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias.

Mitochondrial Dysfunction in FTD-ALS Spectrum Disorders

Jane Wu, MD, PhD

Presented by Jane Wu, MD, PhD; Dr. Charles Louis Mix Research Professor in Neurology and Psychiatry, Neurology and Psychiatry at Northwestern Medicine

Dr. Wu is the Dr. Charles L. Mix Research Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry. Her group has been studying molecular pathogenesis of frontotemporal lobe dementia (FTD)- amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) spectrum disorders. Recent studies from her group and others have uncovered the link between nuclear RNA binding proteins and mitochondrial dysfunction in FTD-ALS spectrum disorders. She will discuss about recent advances in our understanding of molecular mechanisms underlying mitochondrial impairment in ALS and the implications in developing therapeutic approaches for ALS.

Clinical Conversations Panel

  • Moderator: Colin Franz, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Neurology, Lois Insoila ALS Clinic at Les Turner ALS Center at Northwestern Medicine
  • Senda Ajroud-Driss, MD, Director, Lois Insolia ALS Clinic at Les Turner ALS Center at Northwestern Medicine; Program Director, Neuromuscular Fellowship; Associate Professor of Neurology
  • Robert H. Brown, Jr., D.Phil, MD, Leo P. and Theresa M. LaChance Chair in Medical Research, Director of the Program in Neurotherapeutics, University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS)
  • Lisa F. Wolfe, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary and Critical Care) and Neurology, Lois Insoila ALS Clinic at Les Turner ALS Center at Northwestern Medicine.

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A look into last year's Symposium 

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