In recognition of ALS Awareness Month – with a theme of “Raise Your Voice” – we’re sharing new stories nearly every day in May. They’re stories about people living with the disease and their caregivers, the volunteers and health care providers who help make the lives of people with ALS better, the generous fundraisers and the participants in Walk to Defeat ALS and Team Challenge ALS events, and the researchers fighting for a cure. They are all part of our ALS community, helping us fight toward a world without ALS. This is the eighth profile in that series.
The ALS Association is happy to continue our tradition of supporting bright, young scientists in ALS research through our Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. These awards encourage young scientists to enter and, importantly, to remain in the ALS field.
We are proud that 90 percent of our funded postdoctoral fellows go on to start their own ALS research labs and continue to mentor more young scientists, further adding innovative ideas to the field.
This year, we are supporting six new postdoctoral fellows out of a highly competitive applicant pool. This is the third in a series of six articles highlighting the dedication and unique contribution each fellow makes to ALS research, while getting to know the person behind the lab coat.
Today, we sit down with Dr. Anthony Giampetruzzi from University of Massachusetts Medical School to learn about his unique research project aimed at identifying new ALS therapeutic targets.
Anthony Giampetruzzi, Ph.D.
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Mentor: Dr. John Landers
Project: Identifying therapeutics for ALS using ALS-linked mutant Profilin-1
What is your message to our generous donors?
I would like to thank the donors who made my fellowship possible. The selflessness of the many donors is inspiring to me and is vital for continued progress in finding a cure for ALS. THANK YOU!
Why did you choose to focus on ALS research and what do you like about working in this field?
I chose to focus on ALS research because of my background in studying neuroscience and the importance of finding a cure for a disease that has such a negative impact on people's lives. One of many things I like about working in this field is the collaboration among so many in ALS community.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by those who battle ALS daily, both patients and those close to them. Also, the tremendous work performed by so many ALS researches serves as a great example for me. Furthermore, others in the ALS community provide me with inspiration. I recently became aware of the work Steve Gleason is doing, which I find very inspiring. In addition, being from Massachusetts, I am familiar with the courage of Pete Frates and all he has done for the ALS community. I have a cousin who is a member of the Boston College Baseball team and it is great to see all the work they do to support Pete Frates through ALS awareness and fundraising.
Briefly describe your funded research project.
The goal of my project is to identify modifiers, such as drugs, that either increase or decrease neuron death in neuronal models of ALS. Those modifiers can be used as potential therapies for ALS. In addition, the cellular pathways that are affected by the modifiers we identify to influence neuron death can be examined as targets for ALS therapies.
What is the impact of your research on the ALS community?
At the conclusion of our work, we hope to discover new treatment targets for ALS.
Tell me something unique about yourself.
Prior to my career in research, I was a high school science teacher.