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Belgium Researcher Receives AAN’s Sheila Essey Award

CHICAGO – The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) is awarding the 2008 Sheila Essey Award for ALS Research to Wim Robberecht MD, PhD, with the University of Leuven in Leuven, Belgium, for his work in the pathogenesis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Robberecht will receive the award during the AAN’s 60th Annual Meeting in Chicago, held April 12–19, 2008. The Sheila Essey Award recognizes an individual who has made significant research contributions in the search for the cause, prevention of, and cure for ALS. 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. Both the upper motor neurons and the lower motor neurons are affected in ALS. Robberecht’s work focused on finding mechanisms of motor neuron degeneration and identifying targets for intervention. “This, hopefully, will lead to a treatment of patients with ALS,” said Robberecht. “I am delighted and honored to receive this award. I want to emphasize that my research is a collaborative effort and I would like to dedicate this award to all researchers in my laboratory and all my collaborators. I especially want to thank the many ALS patients who volunteered to take part in the epidemiological, genetic and treatment studies. Receiving this award is a very strong encouragement to continue my research in hopes of contributing to the development of a treatment for ALS.” Sponsored by the American Academy of Neurology and the ALS Association, this award is supported through the philanthropy of the Essey family. The 60th Annual Meeting, one of the world’s largest gatherings of neurology professionals, takes place in the McCormick Place West Convention Center in Chicago.

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 21,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke. For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit

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