The United States is getting older. The growing number of retirees and baby boomers is increasing the population’s average age, and with that comes a variety of health problems related to aging.
Target ALS wants to help find the solution to one of those health problems. The organization is dedicated to funding research into neurodegenerative diseases, particularly ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Started by former New York City Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, Target ALS is approaching research in a new way.
“We want to understand the basic science, but we want to do it in a way that can make something happen,” said Zach Hall, the former director of the National Institutes of Health’s Neurology Institute and an adviser on the project.
Target ALS is taking a bit of a crowdsourcing approach to funding research. It only gives money to teams of scientists and asks them to share the data they find so that the pace of research increases. From 6 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Doctoroff and several representatives from St. John’s Medical Center will come to Snow King’s Grand View Lodge to discuss the group’s work.
Not much is known about neurodegenerative diseases, so Target ALS is funding research into finding biomarkers, or physiological signs that doctors would be able to track.
“What you need are hard biologically based measures of disease progression, sometimes diagnosis and also the effectiveness of any drugs you have,” Hall said.
Having such signs would allow doctors to better treat neurodegenerative diseases because they would have something other than behavioral clues into how a drug or treatment works for an individual patient. The panel of doctors and researchers will talk about how the research is pushing the science forward and how the advancements can show up in the local health care system.
For information on the event, see St. John’s Facebook page.