A message from Noah Zaitlen
My research is forever inspired by my dad and the ALS community
As a scientist, I have always been a math guy who wants to speed up the diagnostic process so that diseases will be detected earlier and more effectively treated. At my lab, we are using neurogenomics to try to find biomarkers (confirmation of the presence or absence) for ALS.
My focus on advancing neurodegenerative disease research took on a deeper resonance after my father, Richard Zaitlen, was diagnosed with ALS in 2016. Professionally, he was widely respected as a patent law attorney. But for my brothers and I, he was just our dad and he was the best- a really fun go-getter who was always encouraging us to pursue memorable adventures.
When you hear about a loved one getting sick, your natural reaction is to think, “What am I going to do about this? How can I help them?” My dad was devoted to ALS research, and absolutely felt that participating in clinical trials was the only way that answers were going to be achieved. My family also got involved with the Golden West Chapter because they were looking for a community.
In 2017, my dad was honored as a Walk to Defeat ALS Hero, for his courageous and inspirational efforts in advocacy, fundraising, and public awareness while living with ALS. Since his death in 2019, we are still involved because we had found “A home,” with the ALS community. We realized we weren't alone and thoroughly understand that what the Chapter does to help others is so important.
Seeing my dad’s challenges with ALS has crystalized the value for me of the work I'm doing in bioinformatics and its contribution to ALS research. The ALS Association has been a great support for scientists like me, by providing the funding that encourages collaboration and innovation. Your support of the Golden West Chapter will go far in fueling important ALS research and in providing care services for the more than 1800 families facing ALS this year.
People often ask me, “How far away are we from cures for ALS?” I'm going to give my dad's answer to this question,“The cure for ALS is in a hallway with a hundred doors. The cure is behind one of those doors.”
As scientists, we are walking through the hallway, and we're opening the doors. Finding treatments and cures is not a question of, “if,” it's a question of, “when.” The more research we do, and the more funding there is to conduct that research, then the sooner we're going to have it.
I want anyone reading this to know that the work that our ALS community is doing accelerates the search for effective treatments and cures. It is only together that we will defeat ALS.
Noah Zaitlen, PhD
Associate Professor and Co-Director, UCLA Clinical Neurogenomics Research Center
UCSF Weill Trailblazer Award winner
Team RiZeUp, in memory of Richard Zaitlen
Here are three ways that you can advance the search for effective treatments and cures for ALS!