The University of California San Diego Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Motor Neuron Center combines clinical, translational, and basic research into one of the world's leading ALS Centers of Excellence. ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, causes progressive muscle weakness due to degeneration of motor neurons in the central nervous system. There are about 30,000 patients in the United States. Ninety percent of the time, the disease is sporadic (“out of the blue”) and, 10% of the time, it runs in families. It impacts families, friends, neighborhoods, communities and workplaces, as well as individual patients. Caring for patients requires special expertise to individualize the patient's needs. The goals are clear: first, care and support patients and their circles; second, understand and cure the disease.
At UC San Diego's ALS and Motor Neuron Center, there are three main axes of ALS-related activities. First, there is advanced clinical care, including diagnostics to assess patients and their needs, as well as an experienced, compassionate, integrative, multidisciplinary clinic that is affiliated with lay organizations to provide for patient needs.
Second, there are the basic science programs for ALS, which involves several world-ranking research programs that study molecular and cellular biology, genomics, genetics, computational biology, molecular biology, gene therapies, and stem cell biology for cutting edge integrated research.
And, third, there is an active translational research program to bring patient and science together. This includes UCSD’s ALS Clinical Trials (ACT) Program, which is a testing ground for new drugs and active biorepositories to get materials such as blood samples and skin biopsies into the research realm for direct examination and research on direct patient-related materials.