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UMass Medical School reflects on life of Pete Frates, ‘a true champion’

UMass Medical School Communications

December 09, 2019
In 2014, after Pete Frates began to raise awareness of   ALS through the Ice Bucket Challenge, Chancellor Collins and Dr. Brown accepted the challenge at UMMS.

Chancellor Michael F. Collins and the UMass Medical School community acknowledge with sadness the passing of Pete Frates, who raised millions of dollars for ALS research and whose indefatigable spirit remains an inspiration to all who work tirelessly to find a therapy for this disease. According to a statement from his family, Frates died on Monday, Dec. 9, at age 34.

Following his diagnosis with ALS, Frates exhorted scientists, elected officials, policy makers and thousands of people around the world to do more to solve the mysteries of ALS. The “Ice Bucket Challenge” that he championed raised more than $200 million for the ALS Association, money that is critical to the funding of research into the causes and potential cures for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

“Comforted and buoyed by the love and support of his cherished family, Pete Frates devoted the precious time he had left on this earth to advance a cause that he believed fervently would ultimately change the course of this heartbreaking disease,” said Chancellor Collins. “Every day, some of the world’s leading ALS experts come to work at UMass Medical School to perform vital research supported by the ALS Association and thus, by Pete and his selfless efforts. The world has lost a true champion, but his legacy surely will endure.”

John Landers, PhD, professor of neurology, credited Frates with generating support for crucial research into the genetic origins of ALS. “Our hearts go out to the Frates family for their loss today,” said Dr. Landers. “Pete Frates was an inspiration to people across the globe and words cannot express the impact he and his family have had on the ALS scientific research community. Although Pete is no longer with us, his efforts will live on forever.”

Robert H. Brown Jr., DPhil, MD, the Leo P. and Theresa M. LaChance Chair in Medical Research and professor of neurology, said of Frates, “His phenomenal success in generating new resources for ALS research through the Ice Bucket Challenge and other programs will inspire and motivate us for years to come.”

Related stories on UMassMedNow:
John Landers, ALS Association celebrate fifth anniversary of Ice Bucket Challenge
UMMS-led discovery of ALS gene funded by Ice Bucket Challenge; nets global attention
Ice Bucket Challenge paying for genome sequencing in ALS patients
UMMS chancellor, ALS researcher take ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’