VANCOUVER, British Columbia, April 15, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Academy of Neurology and The ALS Association are awarding the 2016 Sheila Essey Award to Ammar Al-Chalabi, PhD FRCP, from the Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute at King's College London in London, England, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. The award recognizes significant research contributions in the search for the causes, prevention and cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
Al-Chalabi will receive the award at the American Academy of Neurology's 68th Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada, from April 15 to 21, 2016. The Annual Meeting is the world's largest gathering of neurologists, with 12,000 attendees and more than 2,700 scientific presentations on the latest research advances in brain disease. The $50,000 prize is given to fuel continuing ALS research.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. People with ALS lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which often leads to total paralysis and death within two to five years of diagnosis. For unknown reasons, veterans are twice as likely to develop ALS as the general population. At this time, there is no known cause or cure, and there is only one drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that modestly extends survival.
Al-Chalabi is receiving the award for his role in helping transform the way the world thinks of ALS. While it was once thought that ALS was a simple disease with no genetic basis, except in those with a family history, it is now known to be a complex condition in which genetics combine with non-genetic factors, causing degeneration of motor neurons.
Al-Chalabi and his team have helped to identify many of the known ALS genes and are now completing two of the largest ALS genetic studies ever. In one study, researchers are examining 17 million gene variations in 40,000 people. In the other, researchers are sequencing entire genomes of more than 20,000 people.
"Finding the genetic causes of ALS will help researchers understand the reasons motor neurons degenerate, identify the environmental and lifestyle risk factors and allow doctors to design personalized treatments," said Al-Chalabi. "I am incredibly honored to receive the Sheila Essey Award for ALS Research."
Learn more about ALS at www.aan.com/patients.
The American Academy of Neurology, an association of 30,000 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 Alzheimer's disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.
SOURCE American Academy of Neurology