A donor wall was unveiled this morning to mark the donation of $500,000 by LiveLikeLou.org, a donor-advised fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation, to the University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute to advance research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The wall is located in the walkway between UPMC Presbyterian and Montefiore hospitals.
In 2015, a starting grant from the fund helped establish the Live Like Lou Center for ALS Research in the Brain Institute. This is the second grant as part of a commitment to raise $2.5 million in five years. LiveLikeLou.org was established in 2011 by Neil and Suzanne Alexander, soon after Neil Alexander was diagnosed with ALS at age 46. He died in 2015.
Currently, there is no effective treatment for ALS, which causes progressive paralysis and eventually makes swallowing and breathing difficult, if not impossible, while sensation and cognitive function remain unaffected. Patients with ALS live two to five years after diagnosis, on average, with about 10 percent surviving for 10 years or longer. The Alexanders helped envision the Live Like Lou Center to advance research into the causes of ALS, finding cures and developing technologies to help improve the quality of live for individuals with ALS.
In connection with the donor-wall installation, LiveLikeLou.org co-founder Suzanne Alexander is scheduled to appear on the Sunday Business Page program on KDKA-TV on Nov. 27. She will be joined by Chris Donnelly, PhD, assistant professor of neurobiology, whose recruitment and ALS research have been funded with the help of the donation.