Sheila Essey Award for ALS Research
Sheila Essey Award for ALS Research

The Sheila Essey Award for ALS Research

Essey Family

Since 1996, the Sheila Essey Award has served to recognize significant research contributions in the search for the causes, prevention and cure for ALS. The ALS Association, in partnership with the American Brain Foundation and the American Academy of Neurology, jointly choose the recipient of this annual award, which comes with a $50,000 prize.

The award is made possible through the generosity of the Essey Family Fund in memory of Sheila Essey, who battled ALS for 10 years and died from the disease in 2004. Richard Essey, Sheila’s husband, served as a national trustee of The ALS Association and is one of the founders of the Greater Bay Area Chapter, now the Golden West Chapter.

Recipients of this prestigious honor have made important discoveries that have helped improve our understanding of ALS and contributed to advancements in prevention and treatment.

  • Identified numerous genes responsible for causing familial ALS, including C9orf72, VCP, MATR3, FUS and SOD1, among many others.
  • Contributed to the first successful FDA-approved drug, riluzole.
  • Pioneered the use of antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) in ALS, laying the foundation for the first FDA-approved treatment to target a genetic cause of ALS.
  • Uncovered important ALS disease mechanisms, such as oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, excitotoxicity and glial dysfunction, among others.
  • Identified major environmental and genetic risk factors for ALS.
  • Discovered ALS biomarkers that can potentially help understand ALS disease progression and aid in ALS diagnosis.
  • Founded and/or led important ALS organizations, such as the NEALS Clinical Trials Network and the American Academy of Neurology, among others.

Many of these award winners have chosen to reinvest their prize in ALS research or used it to support promising young scientists on their research teams.

Sheila Essey Award Winners 

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Sheila Essey Award for ALS Research