At the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), which took place April 15-21 in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada, the AAN and The ALS Association presented Ammar Al-Chalabi of the King’s College London, UK, with the 2016 Sheila Essey Award for ALS Research. The $50,000 award was granted in recognition of Al-Chalabi’s leadership and contributions to the understanding of the genetic causes of ALS in both familial and sporadic disease.
Al-Chalabi, who is a Professor of Neurology and Complex Disease Genetics at King’s College London and also director of the largest ALS clinic in London, established one of the first DNA banks for ALS research. He is been a leader in organizing large scale genetic studies in ALS and has played a key role in identifying many of the known ALS genes. He also took park in early discoveries that were seminal to later identification of the C9orf72 gene mutation (Morita et al., 2006; Shatunov, A et al., 2010). Al-Chalabi and his team are now participating in two of the largest ALS genetic studies ever conducted, including Project MinE, which aims to conduct whole genome sequencing of over 20,000 people, and a second study examining 17 million gene variations in 40,000 participants.