Maryland and Florida Scientists Win Sheila Essey Award for ALS Research

SAN DIEGO – The American Academy of Neurology and the ALS Association are awarding the 2013 Sheila Essey Award: An Award for ALS Research to Bryan Traynor, MD, with the National Institute on Aging in Bethesda, Md., and Rosa Rademakers, PhD, with the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla. Traynor and Rademakers will receive the award during the Academy’s 65th Annual Meeting, March 16-23, 2013, in San Diego. The Annual Meeting is the world’s largest gathering of neurologists with more than 10,000 attendees and more than 2,300 scientific presentations on the latest research advancements in brain disease. The Essey Award recognizes individuals who have made significant research contributions in the search for the cause, prevention of and cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The $25,000 prize is to be used toward continuing ALS research. ALS is a motor neuron disease which is characterized by the gradual degeneration and death of motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord leading to muscle weakness. People with ALS eventually become paralyzed and die from respiratory failure on an average of three years after symptoms first appear. Traynor and Rademakers are receiving the award for their research investigating the major genetic cause of both ALS and Frontotemporal dementia (FTD), or Pick’s disease, the most common form of dementia in populations under the age of 65. An overlap between these two diseases has been found, but the molecular basis of the link has not. This research has identified a repeating gene expansion, which is found in about 40 percent of people with ALS and FTD. “We continue to work to understand the mechanisms by which this gene expansion leads to degeneration in the brain in order to translate these findings back to the care for patients suffering from this terrible disease,” said Traynor. “I am honored to receive this award for my research and hope that it will continue to lead to many more significant discoveries in ALS” said Rademakers. Sponsored by the American Academy of Neurology and the ALS Association, this award is supported through the philanthropy of the Essey Family Fund and The ALS Association. Learn more about ALS at

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 25,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.


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