Archives for October 2014

Eva Feldman elected to prestigious Institute of Medicine


Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D.

Eva L. Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., the Russell N. DeJong Professor of Neurology at the Medical School and director of the Program for Neurology Research and Discovery, has been elected to the prestigious Institute of Medicine, one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine.

Dr. Feldman, who is also director of the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute, is an internationally renowned expert in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.  She has devoted her career to finding new therapies and treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, and is at the forefront of applying stem cell research to human disease.

“This is truly an incredible honor,” Dr. Feldman said. “But more than anything it validates the hard work and dedication of our research and clinic teams at the University of Michigan. They are second to none, and I am fortunate to work with each and every one of them in our quest to understand and treat these confounding neurological disorders.”

As a clinician-scientist, Dr. Feldman treats patients and also directs the Program for Neurology Research and Discovery (, a laboratory staffed by some 30 scientists who are deciphering the mysteries of conditions ranging from diabetic nerve damage to Alzheimer’s disease. She is director of research for the U-M ALS clinic and is the principal investigator of the first-ever FDA-approved human clinical trial of a stem cell therapy for ALS. The second phase of the trial is complete and Dr. Feldman anticipates moving to a broader test of the therapy in 2015. She has more than 23 years of continuous NIH funding and is currently the principal or co-investigator of five major National Institutes of Health research grants and three private foundation grants as well as the author of more than 300 original peer-reviewed articles, 59 book chapters and three books.

Dr. Feldman counts among her greatest accomplishments the training of both scientists and neurologists. Nine scientists have received their Ph.D. degrees under her supervision, she has trained 50 postdoctoral fellows in her laboratory to become neuroscientists, and 40 neurologists have trained under her to specialize in the understanding and treatment of neuromuscular and neurodegenerative diseases. She has served as the recent president of the American Neurological Association and holds many honors and awards in her field.

Dr. Feldman is one of six University of Michigan experts elected to the IOM this year, bringing to 59 the total of U-M faculty members who have been elected to the IOM. Also elected this year:

  • Gonçalo R. Abecasis, the Felix E. Moore Collegiate Professor of Biostatistics and chair of the Department of Biostatistics at the School of Public Health.
  • Carol R. Bradford, M.D., chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the Medical School.
  • Charles J. Krause, M.D., Collegiate Professor of Otolaryngology.
  • Mark Fendrick, M.D., professor of internal medicine at the Medical School and a professor of health management and policy at the School of Public Health.
  • Susan A. Murphy, the H.E. Robbins Distinguished University Professor of Statistics, professor of psychiatry and research professor at the Institute for Social Research.
  • Kathleen M. Potempa, dean and professor at the School of Nursing.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) is an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public.  Established in 1970, the IOM is the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, which was chartered under President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Nearly 150 years later, the National Academy of Sciences has expanded into what is collectively known as the National Academies, which comprises the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Research Council, and the IOM.

New members are elected by current active members through a selective process that recognizes individuals who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health.  A diversity of talent among IOM’s membership is assured by the Institute’s charter, which stipulates that at least one-quarter of the membership is selected from outside the health professions, for example, from such fields as the law, engineering, social sciences, and the humanities.  The newly elected members raise IOM’s total active membership to 1,798 and the number of foreign associates to 128.  With an additional 86 members holding emeritus status, IOM’s total membership is 2,012.


PNRD Lab Tech Tackles Appalachian Trail

UPDATE – May 23, 2015

Sam writes:

Good morning lab!

I just wanted to send a quick update before hopping back on the trail. I recently hiked through the smoky mountains, spent a few zero days hanging out with my family in Asheville, and returned to the AT near Hot Springs NC. Everything’s still going really well!

UPDATE – May 12, 2015

Sam writes:

Hey lab mates!

Yes I am alive indeed and feeling better than I have in a long time.

The journey has been very smooth so far. I’m moving faster than I thought I would, averaging close to 16 miles a day. Six days in I bagged my first state (Georgia), yesterday I completed my first 20+ mile day (23.1 miles, 55,545 steps, 519 flights of stairs according my iHealth app), and tomorrow I enter the Smokies (mile ~170). Besides a few unremarkable blisters, my body’s doing really well.

I hike alone every day, which is interesting to say the least. I have a looooot of time to think, and I’ve also listened to all of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, half of Journey to the Center of the Earth, as well as several albums and podcasts. In fact, if anyone has any audio book recommendations, I’m all ears! At night, I generally stay at a shelter (see picture) with anywhere between 0-8 other people.

Even though I am mostly alone, the social aspect has been really great. Most everyone has a trail name by now. Mine is Fury, I don’t really want to explain why, others include Crash, Octopus, Butter Beard, Happy, and Glider (who I named) just to list a few. Because I move quickly I’ve passed through a few different groups, and now I sort of found one with a similar pace. Currently I’m in Fontana Dam, the last resupply before the 70-mile trek through The Great Smoky Mountains. I’m staying in a decent motel with Octopus and another guy named Lone Ranger who was excommunicated from the Amish community for becoming a bull rider. Really interesting guy.

I’ve had plenty of food and water. There are about six streams a day that I cross and a water source by every shelter. There are some older guys (including Lone Ranger) who are a part of a dwindling club of people who don’t filter their water. Guts of steel! There’s a man, nay a celebrity of the AT, Warren Doyle who’s hiked the Appalachian Trail 17 times, and he’s the leader of the no-filter movement. I think they are a great part of the AT culture, and I’m undoubtedly a little bit jealous, but I don’t want to risk it. I filter, most of the time. I met Warren Doyle a few days ago, he’s got a Santa beard, wears golf shoes, tightens his belt above his massive belly, and doesn’t need even a second to catch his breath while climbing the steepest hills. Legendary.

There’s so much more to say but I just want to let you know I’m safe, healthy, and happy.

Miss you guys!

PNRD Lab Tech Tackles Appalachian Trail

Ann Arbor — Sam Jackson will enter medical school in the fall of 2015, so he wanted to make this summer – most likely his last free one for the forseeable future – worth remembering.

Sam Jackson takes a selfie from high up the Appalachian Trail.

Sam Jackson takes a selfie from high up the Appalachian Trail.

So back in October he hatched a plan and started to prepare. On May 1 he stepped onto the Appalachian Trail for an 81-day, 1,100-mile backpacking adventure. But an epic adventure wasn’t enough for the 25-year-old lab technician. To make the trip both memorable and meaningful, Jackson decided to connect his pursuit of adventure with his passion for diabetes research.

Since 2010, Jackson has studied the causes of diabetes in the University of Michigan’s Program for Neurology Research & Discovery (PNR&D). He’ll spend Summer 2016 in a clinic in India, helping diagnose diabetic neuropathy, or nerve pain.

“I was thinking I have a lot of momentum on diabetes research, and now I’m going to work in the clinic,” he said. “So how can I translate what I’m doing this summer toward my overall goal of studying and helping cure diabetes?”

At the invitation of Dr. Eva Feldman, Jackson will work next summer at the Diabetes Specialities Centre in Chennai, India, in collaboration with the World Health Organization. The 200-bed clinic is one of the world’s largest: It has treated more than 2 million patients to date.

But first things first. Jackson began his trek in Springer Mountain, Georgia. Along the way he’ll hike 10-30 mountainous miles a day, filter stream water for drinking, eat what he can carry and sleep in tents and lean-to structures. All told, he’ll cover more than half of the Appalachian Trail, and will be joined for the final march to Maine’s Mount Katahdin by his twin brother Elliot. In the fall, the Harbor Springs native will start medical school at Central Michigan University.

“I knew that I wanted to travel extensively before medical school, and I knew I would have all summer to do something,” he said. “I used the ‘Goldilocks’ principle” Something that’s in my price range, something that was challenging, but I didn’t have to worry about my survival. Something that I could plan but didn’t have to overly research, something with a water source every day. This felt like it was just right.”

PNR&D Director Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., said Jackson’s presence in the lab will be missed, but that she expects his good work to endure long after he leaves U-M.

“Sam is a remarkable young man with a very bright future as a physician,” Feldman said. “It doesn’t surprise me in the least that he wants to use this opportunity to advance the cause of diabetic research. He has been doing that ever since he started working here.”

To support Sam Jackson’s Hike Against Diabetes, please visit and click on the ‘Make a Gift’ button at the top of the page.

Photo Gallery

Michigan football fans get lesson in ALS research

Michigan football fans got a primer on ALS research Friday when Dr. Eva Feldman joined the Maize and Blue Family Cookout event hosted by radio station WTKA-AM on Friday, October 10.

Dr. Eva Feldman, right, joins WTKA radio hosts Ira Weintraub, left, and Sam Webb, center, during the Maize and Blue Family Cookout on Oct. 10 in Ypsilanti.

Dr. Eva Feldman, right, joins WTKA radio hosts Ira Weintraub, left, and Sam Webb, center, during the Maize and Blue Family Cookout on Oct. 10 in Ypsilanti.

Dr. Feldman, director of the Program for Neurology Research and Discovery and a world-renowned researcher on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, joined radio hosts Sam Webb and Ira Weintraub to discuss ALS research efforts at the University of Michigan.

Webb and Weintraub participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge this summer and held the Maize and Blue Family Cookout in support of the University of Michigan’s Comprehensive ALS Clinic.

“ALS is especially prevalent among members of the military and athletes, and it strikes healthy people in the prime of their lives,” Dr. Feldman said. “So I thought it was important to share our story of hope through research with the University of Michigan football family.”

Dr. Feldman noted during the broadcast that the Ice Bucket Challenge that took place this summer has raised more than $120 million for ALS research, a six-fold increase over previous ALS funding efforts.

The radio show was broadcast live from Cueter Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Ypsilanti and included former University of Michigan football players Jamie Morris, Chris Howard, Marcus Ray and Gerald White.

“I really appreciate the opportunity to reach a new audience,” Dr. Feldman said. “Sam and Ira were gracious hosts and I’m delighted that they’ve taken an interest in ALS research at the University of Michigan. Go Blue!”

Listen to podcast here: