Trial News & Events

Dr. Timothy Miller Wins $50,000 Sheila Essey Award for ALS Research

The ALS Association, in partnership with the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), and the American Brain Foundation, are awarding the 2018 Sheila Essey Award for ALS Research to Timothy M. Miller, M.D., Ph.D., the David Clayson Professor of Neurology from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The award recognizes significant research contributions in the search for the causes, prevention, and cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Since 1996, The ALS Association and the American Academy of Neurology have jointly chosen recipients of the award.

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Eventually, people with ALS lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which often leads to total paralysis and death within two to five years of diagnosis. For unknown reasons, veterans are twice as likely to develop ALS as the general population. There is no cure.

Miller is receiving the award for his work to find effective therapies for ALS. Many neurodegenerative diseases, including ALS, involve a build-up of misfolded toxic proteins, so he and his team of researchers are developing a method to turn off the production of these toxic proteins in the brain and spinal fluid.

“Our team has led efforts to find ways to stop these proteins from causing damage to nerve cells that control movement,” said Miller. “We believe that our refined approach may become broadly applicable to clinical trials for all different types of ALS.”

Miller’s approach is currently being tested in a human antisense trial targeting SOD1, the second most common inherited ALS gene mutation.

“I feel fortunate to work with a group of individuals who have a genuine commitment to finding treatments for ALS,” said Miller. “I am deeply honored to receive this award and am pleased to be able to share this recognition with them.”

“Dr. Miller has been instrumental in bringing antisense technology to clinical trials for people living with ALS. His work to ensure levels of mutant SOD1 can be measured in cerebral spinal fluid and plasma as biomarkers has been essential for the trial,” stated Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D., MBA, chief scientist at The ALS Association. “His natural history studies for C9orf72 families are critical to inform the upcoming antisense trial in these families. Dr. Miller is also leading the effort to develop a TDP-43 biomarker supported by The ALS Association TDP-43 Biomarker Grand Challenge, which will be an invaluable tool for the field.”

The Sheila Essey Award for ALS Research is given to acknowledge and honor an individual who is making significant contributions in research. The award is made possible through the generosity of the Essey Family Fund through The ALS Association Golden West Chapter, in memory of Sheila Essey, who battled ALS for 10 years and died from the disease in 2004.

Richard Essey, Sheila’s husband, served as a National Trustee of The ALS Association and is one of the founders of the Greater Bay Area Chapter, now the Golden West Chapter. Past recipients have used the funds to continue ALS research or to support promising young scientists on their research teams. The ALS Association and The AAN are deeply grateful for the unwavering commitment of Richard Essey in continuing to support this important honor.

Miller will be honored at the American Academy of Neurology’s 70th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, April 21-27, 2018. The Annual Meeting is the world’s largest gathering of neurologists with more than 13,000 attendees and more than 2,700 scientific presentations on the latest research advances in brain disease. The $50,000 Essey Award prize is given to support continuing ALS research.

The ALS Association Press Release