The 7th Annual California ALS Research Summit
Supports Collaboration and New Ideas in the Fight against ALS
January 13, 2017 - Los Angeles, California
The Golden West Chapter and the California ALS Research Network co-sponsored the 7th Annual California ALS Research Summit. This two-day event, held at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, included more than 120 world leaders in ALS research and clinical care, representatives from biotech companies, and members of The ALS Association- the largest attendance at the summit today. The ongoing purpose of the Summit is to create discussion about ALS, research and funding as well as fostering networking among scientists, clinicians, biotech companies and ALS advocates.
"This is a particularly exciting time for ALS research, with increased funds committed towards the development of treatments for ALS," Lucie Brujin, Chief Scientist of The ALS Association.
“This year, we continue to engage with the leaders of industry and biotech, to come and present along with researchers and clinicians." said Clive Svendsen, PhD, Chair, California ALS Research Network and Director, Cedars-Sinai RMI. "The discussions were stimulating and productive, with a number of new ideas to focus on the coming year."
Robert Miller, MD, Director of th Forbes Norris ALS Center at California Pacific Medical Center agreed and said, "Collaboration between industry, academia, and medicine will lead to a better understanding of this devastating disease."
"Every one of us feels a sense of urgency to develop therapeutics for ALS and that has only increased," said Justin Ichida, PhD, Assistant Professor of Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine, USC. "I am very pleased with the participation at this year's Summit"
The keynote speaker was Larry Goldstein, Distinguished Professor, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine from UCSD who spoke about using stem cells to model and treat neurodegenerative diseases. Updates were presented from members of industry, who discussed the different processes of working with pharmaceutical companies to fund trials and make their medications available to the public, and special sessions on genetics, neuroinflamation, and biomarkers. There was exciting news to share from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, about a new, approved gene and stem cell therapy trial for ALS.
Attendees of the 7th Annual California ALS Research Summit took part in a marathon two-day meeting with over 50 presentations and panel discussions. During the evening, the group was treated to a special performance by pianist Zora Mihailovich. This year, the event included an emotional tribute to one of the Summit’s founders, Jim Barber, who lost his battle with ALS in 2016. In recognition of Jim’s leadership and efforts on behalf of the ALS community, the first Barber ALS Research Awards were presented to three young scientists: Dara Ditsworth from UCSD, Pooja Hor from USC, and Gretchen Thomson from Cedars-Sinai. In conjunction with the Summit, people with ALS and their loved ones also attended the Golden West Chapter’s “Ask the Experts” and educational symposium where attendees had an opportunity to hear first-hand, in person, or via live stream, from top clinicians and researchers in the field. The overwhelming feedback from the event was positive and hopeful.
"Next year we move the Summit to Stanford University and look forward to putting together another great meeting," said Svendsen. "We are planning to have some activities, based around patients actually mingling with the scientists and clinicians to brainstorm about new ways to treat and eventually cure ALS. Together, we can make progress.”