Archives for March 2013

Women Talk Health with Women

Women’s Health & Fitness Day provides a heavy dose of good advice

Women often interact with doctors only when they’re sick. At least once a year, women students in the University of Michigan’s Medical School seek to change that by holding an annual Women’s Health & Fitness Day.

Women often interact with doctors only when they’re sick. At least once a year, women students in the University of Michigan’s Medical School seek to change that by holding an annual Women’s Health & Fitness Day.

This year on January 24, more than 225 women jammed Ypsilanti High School to hear from a wide variety of health-care professionals about how they could lead healthier, happier, more productive lives.

Seventeen medical students and more than 20 community leaders volunteered their time to make this free event possible. It was funded, in part, by the Program for Neurology Research and Discovery.
The day began with a free breakfast and a round of yoga. Then, participants took part in 19 workshops on topics such as depression, sexuality, obesity, financial health and stress management. The sessions were taught by University of Michigan Health System doctors, nurses, physical therapists and nutritionists.
The program culminated with a rousing talk by Sheila Taorima, the Olympic champion from Michigan, who recently founded Friendsport, a nonprofit organization that seeks to inspire Americans to adopt healthier lifestyles.

“The day was a success with many great worksops and Sheila Taormina’s inspiring keynote,” said Cassandra Niemi, co-director of the event with Lane Frasier. “It was wonderful to talk with so manny women who were energized by new friends and by the knowledge they gained from health-care professionals.

Beyond the Laboratory

Beyond the Laboratory

Sponsor Steve Sarns from NuStep and Becca Schumaker, Michigan Regional Director of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, join Dr. Eva Feldman in the Big House at the end of the race.

None of our progress would have been possible without the thousands of people who donate their time, money and hard work to support the Program for Neurology & Discovery.

A Run for the Research Money

On Sept. 28, the Big House Big Heart event drew 7,000 runners and walkers to the U-M stadium, where they got to watch themselves cross the 50-yard-line on the stadium’s Jumbotron. Nearly $250,000 was raised for charity. Two great U-M causes were the primary recipients: The Program for Neurology Research & Discovery and the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

The man with the biggest heart is local attorney Mike Highfield, who started the run in 2007 after watching Phil Bowen, his friend and law partner, pass away from ALS. He and sponsor, Running Fit, have made this an instant fall tradition.

Next year’s date has already been chosen: October 4. For more information, visit the Big House Big Heart Web site.

A Community Fights Back

A Community Fights Back

Gretchen Spreitzer and her husband Bob Schoeni thank all those who participated in this year’s A2A3 Family Field Day.

When Dr. Bob Schoeni was diagnosed with ALS this summer, it was a shock to friends, colleagues and family in the Ann Arbor community. A popular U-M professor Bob has touched a lot of lives, especially through his coaching of girls sports. A large number of Ann Arbor girls call him simply, “Coach Bob.”

When his friends and coworkers heard about his condition, they organized a non-profit, A2A3 (Ann Arbor Active Against ALS), to support ALS research. Some of their initiatives include Training for a Cure, Coaching for a Cure, and Kids Active for a Cure. They have held a garage sale and Family Field Day.

A portion of the proceeds will go to ALS research at the Program for Neurology Research & Discovery. For information, go to

Stem Cells and Salads

Stem Cells and Salads

Dr. Feldman with the hosts of the luncheon (from left): Pamela Applebaum, Susu Sosnick and Leslie Lewiston Etterbeek.

Along with co-hosts Susu Sosnick and Pamela Applebaum, Leslie Lewiston Etterbeek invited Dr. Feldman to her Bloomfield Hills home to talk to 45 guests on October 3 about stem cell research and the promise it holds for finding new treatments and cures for neurological disease.

Feldman explained what makes embryonic stem cells so special and the work she hopes to be able to do at the University of Michigan if such research became legal in the state. Just one month later, the voters of Michigan passed a new law lifting the ban on stem cell research.

Charity Event Par Excellence

League chairs are recognized at this year's tournament.

League chairs are recognized at this year’s tournament.

For the past seven years, the Executive Women’s Golf Association of Metro Detroit has conducted an end-of-season tournament to raise money for the Program for Neurology Research & Discovery. This year’s event took place on September 25 at Twin Lakes Golf Club in Oakland Township.

Nearly 60 people teed off. The golfers, sponsors and a silent auction raised $2,400 for neurological research. The EWGA exists to provide a setting for women to learn to play and enjoy the game of golf for business and pleasure. The Metro Detroit Chapter has over 200 members in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne and Washtenaw counties.

Taubman Emerging Scholar Dr. James Dowling makes breakthrough in congenital myopathy research

Dr. James DowlingDowling and colleagues find new gene mutation associated with congenital myopathy

About 50 percent of congenital myopathy cases currently do not have a known genetic basis, presenting a clear barrier to understanding disease and developing therapy, says James Dowling, M.D., Ph.D., the paper’s co-senior author and assistant professor of Pediatric Neurology at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Finding a new myopathy gene opens the possibility of providing a genetic explanation for disease in these individuals where no genetic cause is currently known.

In addition, “the identification of a new myopathy gene is an essential first step towards understanding why this disease occurs and how we combat its effects.” says Dowling, a Taubman Emerging Scholar who worked with Margit Burmeister, Ph.D. and her team from the University of Michigan’s Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute to study the new myopathy gene (CCDC78).

[Read more…]

Dr. Eva Feldman receives prestigious U-M honor

Eva-Feldman-DirectorDistinguished Faculty Achievement Award recognizes outstanding service

PNR&D Director Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., is among five 2012 recipients of the University of Michigan’s Distinguished Faculty Achievement Awards. This program honors senior faculty who have consistently demonstrated outstanding achievements in the areas of scholarly research and/or creative endeavors, teaching and mentoring of students and junior faculty, service and other activities which have brought distinction to themselves and to U-M.

Six new U-M stem cell lines added to national registry

embryoidSix new human embryonic stem cell lines derived at the University of Michigan have just been placed on the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s registry, making the cells available for federally-funded research.

U-M now has a total of eight cell lines on the registry, including five that carry genetic mutations for serious diseases such as the severe bleeding disorder hemophilia B, the fatal brain disorder Huntington’s disease and the heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which causes sudden death in athletes and others.

Researchers at U-M and around the country can now begin using the stem cell lines to study the origins of these diseases and potential treatments. Two of the cell lines are believed to be the first in the world bearing that particular disease gene.

The three U-M stem cell lines now in the registry that do not carry disease genes are also useful for general studies and as comparisons for stem cells with disease genes. In all, there are 163 stem cell lines in the federal registry, most of them without major disease genes.

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FDA approves next step in stem cell trial directed by Taubman Institute’s Dr. Eva Feldman

Eva FeldmanThe Food and Drug Administration has approved the next phase of a clinical trial of stem cell therapy for ALS patients being conducted by Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., director of the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute.

In the trial’s first phase, Feldman and her collaborators injected stem cells into the lumbar area of spinal cords of 12 patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease). There have been no adverse side effects related to the procedure.

Going forward, the FDA has approved administering the injections into the cervical region of patients’ spines.

“We have been very encouraged by the early transplantations,” said Eva Feldman, MD, PhD, Principal Investigator of the trial and an unpaid consultant to Neuralstem “Cervical injections are essential, because therapy in this region is key to helping patients with their breathing. The deterioration of these functions most dramatically affect the patients’ quality of life and ultimately their life expectancy.”

[Read more…]

Taubman Emerging Scholar Dr. James Dowling Wins $350,000 Grant

Dr. James DowlingDr. James Dowling, director of the U-M Muscular Dystrophy Clinic, has been awarded a $350,000 grant from the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

The group said it made the award to support Dowling’s research into potential therapies for myotubular myopathy, a disease that affects skeletal muscles and also leads to respiratory problems and eye-muscle weakness.

Dowling is the Taubman Institute’s Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg Emerging Scholar and an assisistant professor of pediatrics, communicable diseases and neurology.

To read the entire article click here.