The University of Pittsburgh
Center for ALS Research was designated by Dr. Arthur Levine in 2006.
David Lacomis, MD is the director. The primary purpose of the center
is to promote collaboration among University of Pittsburgh scientists and clinicians
who share an interest in motor neuron disease research thereby expanding basic,
clinical, and translational research in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Current collaborative
projects include identification of cerebrospinal fluid and serum biomarkers, analyzing
early and evolving anatomic changes in central nervous system motor pathways using
high field MRI, and using induced pleuripotent skin stem cells to grow motor neurons
and other neural cells to further study motor neuron disease mechanisms and drug
effects in vitro.
The Center is also involved in a clinical drug trial of tirasemtiv, and in a multicenter
study of diaphragm pacing vs. best medical care. Additional goals include the development
of novel drug therapies in ALS. The Center's Assistant Director, Julia Kofler, MD is in charge of the ALS Tissue Bank (for
spinal cords and brain), a resource for investigators.