ALS Prevention Researcher Honored with Prestigious Sheila Essey Award


The ALS Association, American Academy of Neurology (AAN), and American Brain Foundation have awarded the 2024 Sheila Essey Award to Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Michigan. Presented during the AAN 2024 Annual Meeting earlier this month, the award recognizes significant research contributions in the search for the causes, prevention, and cure for ALS.  

“Witnessing the profound impact of ALS on my patients and their families motivates me to pursue innovative research aimed at better understanding the underlying disease mechanisms, identifying modifiable risk factors, and developing novel therapeutic treatment strategies to improve patient outcomes,” said Feldman, who serves as the director of the ALS Certified Treatment Center of Excellence™ at Michigan Medicine and James W. Albers Distinguished Professor of Neurology at the University of Michigan.  

Throughout her distinguished career, Feldman has shed light on biological processes that drive ALS development and progression, paving the way for the development of new therapies, including two first-ever human clinical trials of intraspinal stem cell implantation (injection) therapy for ALS. 

Feldman’s research also has linked specific occupations and exposure to persistent organic pollutants, toxins found in the air, and heavy metals to ALS. By helping pinpoint specific risk factors, this research can be used to identify people with a higher risk of developing ALS and pave the way for the development of preventative measures, such as the implementation of environmental regulations, lifestyle changes, or public health interventions. 

Receiving the 2024 Sheila Essey Award is an immense honor for which I am incredibly grateful."
Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D.
2024 Sheila Essey Award Winner

“This recognition raises the critical idea of ALS prevention to the forefront, underscoring the urgency of our collective efforts in identifying risk factors of ALS, developing effective preventative measures and treatment strategies based on our understanding of these risk factors, and ultimately preventing ALS.” 

To truly make ALS a livable disease, advancing the science of prevention is critical, according to Kuldip Dave, Ph.D., senior vice president of research at the ALS Association. 

“We will never have a world without ALS until we can prevent it,” Dave said. “Dr. Feldman has played a pivotal role in not only identifying environmental and other ALS risk factors but also helping to translate them into potential prevention strategies that can be used in the clinic and elsewhere. We are proud to be able to honor her contributions, commitment, and leadership with this year’s Sheila Essey Award.” 

Since 1996, the $50,000 Sheila Essey Award for ALS Research has been 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. Past recipients have used the funds to continue their ALS research or support promising young scientists on their research teams. 

“The money will be invested directly into our new prospective cohort of 4,000 heathy persons in production occupations to identify the earliest signs and symptoms of ALS and the corresponding risk factors” Feldman said. “It will make a major difference, and I am very grateful to the ALS Association and the Essey family.” 

Learn more about ALS risk factors and prevention on our website