The California ALS Research Summit is an annual gathering of researchers, investigators, clinicians, biotech companies, government representatives, partner organizations, and advocates in ALS and related fields. The purpose of the Summit to help increase, expedite and promote the amount and level of related research done in California; and to foster networking, collaboration and cooperation among investigators, their peers and their colleagues to identify, develop and deliver new and effective treatments, ideas and, ultimately, a cure.
Several factors have set the stage for this unique program:
The Network and Summit are products of the advocacy efforts of the four California Chapters of The ALS Association. For a full discussion of how the Network and Summit came about, please click here.
At the third annual Summit, in addition to updates on research collaborations and clinical trials, there was an extensive discussion on how to move ALS research forward in California and on developing a business plan for the Network. Several of the Summit speakers conducted an "Ask the Experts" event open to the public, which focused on updates discussed during the Summit as well as provided an opportunity for attendees to ask questions directly of the scientistsThe fourth annual Summit focused on the themes of stem cell advances, emerging trends and trials ASO Therapy for motor neuron diseases. There was also a focus on RNA binding proteins with TDP 43 and with processing defects and the relevance of C9orf72. The event concluded with a rousing rapid fire poster presentation.
The fifth annual Summit followed the year of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and the Oscar Award-winning film about the life of the reknown Stephen Hawking. We had leaders of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies come and engage with both researchers and clinicians. The discussions were stimulating and productive with a number of new ideas to focus on in the coming year. These included integrating clinical data from ALS patients with the large amounts of genetics and other types of cellular data now being generated from many research groups around the world. Through this “Big Data” analysis, it should be possible to start associating the symptoms of ALS with the biology of motor neurons that go awry. The group was clear that collaborations between industry, academia and medicine will lead to a better understanding of this devastating disease.
The sixth annual summit featured updates on genetics, industry, and emerging trends and trials. There was a special discussion about current research in biomarkers, motor neuron survival and function, neuroinflamation, and stem cells. There was a special segment about the activities of the Neuro Collaborative, a California-based research initiative received initial funding from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. There was also robust discussion about prospects for new drug development in ALS as well as expanding drug targets and delivery techniques. Special guest speakers included representatives from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and Duane Morris, LLP.
In 2017, we will move the summit to Los Angeles and look forward to pulling together another great meeting - and this time plan to have some activity based around patients actually mingling with the scientists and clinicians to brainstorm about new ways to treat and eventually cure ALS. Together we can make progress.
Participants from the 5th Annual California ALS Research Summit in San Francisco- Photo by Jenica Lancy