#IceBucketChallenge to #StrikeOutALS

So, you’ve accepted your #IceBucketChallenge to #StrikeOutALS, but do you really know what it’s all about?

Over the past few weeks, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has taken the social media world by storm. What started as a simple fundraising effort amongst students and alumni at Boston College has now reached news stations, political leaders, and even celebrities. Hollywood stars such as Jimmy Fallon, Justin Timberlake, and the cast of Grey’s Anatomy, just to name a few, have all joined in on the fun to raise awareness and funds for ALS research.

We’re proud to say that Penn Medicine has even gotten in on the action as well! Clark Restrepo, a Research Specialist at Penn’s Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research studying ALS, accepted his challenge last week. See the video here:

But when you stop to think about it, do you really understand the reason why you’re dousing yourself with that ice cold bucket of water?


Critics of the Ice Bucket Challenge believe that most participants don’t truly understand the cause that they are supporting and question the effectiveness, claiming that it can’t possibly do much good if so many people are choosing to soak themselves instead of donating money. However, the recent spike in donations proves otherwise. In an NBC News article released today, the ALS Association revealed that is has now received an incredibly impressive $15.6 million in donations from a combination of existing donors and 307,598 new donors since the start of the challenge in late July. “That’s compared to just $1.8 million in that same time period in 2013.”

Read the full NBC News article here.

For more information on ALS, visit: www.alsa.org

DONATE to Penn’s ALS Research Fund here.


Congratulations! Penn Medicine Neuropathologist Eddie Lee, MD, PhD Awarded $486,000 Doris Duke Grant to Support His Research in FTD and ALS.


Congratulations to Eddie Lee, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania on receiving a three-year Clinical Scientist Development Award (CSDA) for $486,000 from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation!

This grant will support his ongoing research in Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD) and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).


“Being awarded the DDCF CDSA is a great honor, and an amazing validation of the translational approach that we take here at Penn to tackling neurodegenerative diseases.”

As head of the Translational Neuropathology Research Laboratory, Lee and his colleagues’ goal is to better understand the causes of these neurodegenerative diseases to be able to develop specific disease-modifying therapies.

With this grant, Lee plans to study a mutation in the gene C9orf72, the most common genetic cause of FTD and ALS, explained below.

“A subset of patients with the C9orf72 mutation exhibit DNA hypermethylation which partially silences the mutant C9orf72 gene.  We have found that this DNA hypermethylation is associated with reduced neuropathologic inclusions in brain tissue, raising the possibility that C9orf72 hypermethylation protects against disease.  We are pursuing this by studying the cohort of individuals with the C9orf72 mutation followed by Penn physicians in the PENN FTD Center and the ALS Center at Pennsylvania Hospital.  The hope is that understanding these molecular changes in patients and human tissues will lead to novel biomarkers of disease and potentially lead to personalized therapies.”

To learn more about the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Clinical Scientist Development Award, visit: www.ddcf.org.

Full Penn Medicine News Release.

* Quotes courtesy of Eddie Lee, MD, PhD Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania