William Speier, PhD, ALS Researcher
As a scientist, I have spent the last decade working with engineers, neurologists, and physicians to develop brain-computer interface devices for people with ALS. The devices are designed to restore important functionalities, such as the ability to speak, by translating brain signals into computer commands. I was inspired at a young age to work in healthcare research to help people overcome some of the hardships caused by chronic diseases.
Growing up, I watched my uncle live with cerebral palsy and face challenges with communication and independence. Witnessing his incredible perseverance had a significant impact on my perspectives about life and how I wanted to focus my career. Over time, I found myself working more and more closely with many people from the ALS community and sought to become directly involved in the fundraising efforts supporting ALS research and care.
In 2018, I learned about the Golden West Chapter, and I became a volunteer for the Walk to Defeat ALS. Soon after, I formed the "UCLA Brain-Computer Interface Communication'' Walk team and invited family, friends, and research colleagues to join me. I was so inspired by what we can do in support of the ALS community through the programs of the Golden West Chapter.
To this day, in addition to my research, I stay involved as a Team Captain and volunteer Planning Committee member for the Walk, as well as participate in Team Challenge ALS endurance events. Last year, my son was born one week before Walk Day, and my wife and I decided to participate as a family, taking him around our neighborhood in his stroller. As I think of that special moment, I’m reminded that, together, we are all working to provide help and hope to people living with ALS today, and those who will be diagnosed in the future.
I am honored to play a small role in advancing the search for effective treatments and cures for ALS. The strength, dedication, and positive attitude I have seen from people challenged by ALS motivates me to do my best work and to appreciate the opportunities to give back and get others involved in this important fight. I want families facing ALS to know that the research and clinical community is working hard to help, and that we will never give up until we defeat this terrible disease.
I invite you to get involved and help increase awareness and support for everyone affected by the disease. This month and throughout the year, you can participate, advocate, and donate. I look forward to seeing you and celebrating very special moments with you at the Golden West Chapter’s Community Outreach events.
William Speier, PhD
Assistant Professor of Radiology, Bioengineering, and Bioinformatics, UCLA
Volunteer, Walk to Defeat ALS and Team Challenge ALS