Timothy Miller, MD, PhD, the Clayson Professor of Neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has received the 2018 Sheila Essey Award from the American Academy of Neurology. The award includes $50,000 to support his work on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Miller received the award April 24.
The Essey award recognizes researchers who have made significant contributions to ALS research. People with the disease gradually lose control over their muscles, leaving them unable to chew, walk and talk. On average, ALS patients live for three to five years after diagnosis.
Misshapen proteins build up in the nerve cells of people with ALS, causing damage to the neurons that control movement. Miller has pioneered a way to turn off the production of some of these toxic proteins in the brain and spinal cord as a potential way of stopping the disease. A clinical trial employing this approach is underway in people with a genetic form of the disease. If the trial is successful, Miller anticipates it could be applicable to other types of ALS as well.