Back in 2000, when Veronique Belzil was working as a counselor in Canada, she found a new path after watching her husband’s uncle quickly succumb to ALS. She knew she had to do something. So, she decided to take her personal family experience with his journey and turn it into something positive, making it her mission to find a treatment for this terrible disease. Veronique went back to school to pursue a doctorate in neuroscience, with a focus on ALS genetics.
Today, Dr. Belzil has her own ALS research group in the Mayo Clinic Neuroscience Department, also part of the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine, in Jacksonville, Fla., partially thanks to a The ALS Association’s Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowship Program grant she received from The ALS Association.
“I find I have the intrinsic ability to 'connect the dots' between evidence that may seem unrelated at first glance,” says Veronique. “My group is part of several ALS research collaborations with the goal of reversing the changes to gene functions that lead to neurodegeneration.” She believes her group’s investigations and work can potentially lead to the discovery of new therapeutic targets and ALS biomarkers to help facilitate early diagnosis of ALS, predict prognosis, and better measure efficacy of treatment during clinical trials.
According to Veronique, it’s important to remember that awareness of ALS has grown tremendously, and that more researchers are working on it now than ever before. Understanding ALS and developing therapies will have a major impact on all people affected by the disease, and hopefully sooner than later.
“We've made incredible progress in terms of understanding the biology behind the disease, and there is great hope for people living with ALS,” she says. “Together, we will find new treatments and a cure for ALS. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”
To learn more about the progress taking place with the many global projects supported by The ALS Association, CLICK HERE.
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