MDA established the comprehensive, multidisciplinary facility to serve people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a fatal muscle-wasting disease prominent in MDA’s program.
In ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, destruction of nerve cells that control voluntary muscles leads to severe muscle wasting and paralysis. Death typically results within three to five years of diagnosis, usually from respiratory complications. Approximately 30,000 Americans are affected by ALS.
The cause of ALS isn't fully understood, and no cure exists.
The new MDA/ALS center, to be directed by Charles Thornton, is located in the University Medical Center at 601 Elmwood Ave. in Rochester. Those wishing to obtain more information or to schedule an appointment at the center should call MDA’s office in Rochester at (585) 424-6560.
An MDA research grantee in the university’s Department of Neurology, Thornton is also co-director of MDA’s outpatient clinic at the university, which serves people with any of the more than 40 neuromuscular diseases in MDA’s program.
The new ALS center provides people with ALS with care from physicians, nurse practitioners, a physical therapist, speech pathologist and respiratory therapist.
In addition to its clinical services, the center is the site of ongoing ALS research. Center staff are now conducting clinical trials of two potential ALS drugs myotrophin and IGF-1 (a protein that promotes muscle growth).
“We’re delighted to add the University of Rochester facility to our roster of MDA/ALS centers,” MDA President & CEO Robert Ross said. “Under the direction of Dr. Thornton, the center will provide the best, most comprehensive care available for people with ALS, while helping advance our search for better treatments and a cure.”
The Rochester facility is the fourth MDA/ALS center in New York state, joining two similar centers in New York City and a third in Syracuse. Other centers are located at major institutions in Albuquerque, N.M.; Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston; Charlotte and Durham, N.C.; Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Kan.; Little Rock, Ark; Madison, Wis.; Miami, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Salt Lake City; Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; and New Haven, Conn.
One of MDA’s earliest volunteer leaders was Eleanor Gehrig, the widow of New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig, whose name has become synonymous with ALS. Today, with more than $155 million invested in the fight against ALS, MDA leads the worldwide scientific battle against the disease.