Cellucci lecturer champions the fight against ALS

Nobel Laureate speaks at UMass Medical School

By Bryan Goodchild and Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

April 01, 2013

In addition to making seminal discoveries in developmental biology that earned him a Nobel Prize, H. Robert Horvitz, PhD, was a critical member of a team that identified a gene involved in the inherited form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Dr. Horvitz, whose father succumbed to that form of ALS in 1989, gave the first Governor Paul Cellucci Distinguished Lecture at UMass Medical School on Friday, March 29.

Governor Cellucci, who announced in 2011 that he had been diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, receives his medical care from another pioneering ALS researcher, Robert H. Brown Jr., DPhil, MD, theLeo P. and Theresa M. LaChance Chair in Medical Research and chair and professor of neurology at UMass Medical School. Following his announcement about his diagnosis, Cellucci helped establish the UMass ALS Champion Fund to support Dr. Brown’s research.

“I’m proud to play a role in advancing the cutting edge research taking place at UMass and I marvel at the determination of Dr. Brown and all of you have for unlocking ALS and so many other neurodegenerative diseases,” Cellucci said in a videotaped introduction to Horvitz’s talk.

“I got to know Bob [Brown] because of ALS,” recalled Horvitz, whose father also received care from Brown when he was at Harvard University. “It was at that time that [we] started talking about ALS, and in fact, how very little was known, and about new possible ways of approaching the study of the disease, in particular, using some of the new emerging methods of molecular genetics.”

Highlights from the program appear in this video.


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