The award is intended to support the careers of emerging scientists and help move breakthrough ideas to the next level of large-scale funding for the fatal condition of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with Dr. Moon’s selection as our newest recipient,” said W.L. Gray, chairman of the LiveLikeLou Foundation board of trustees. “We are always on the lookout for promising researchers in the early stage of their careers who may need additional support to help advance their research ideas. Dr. Moon certainly meets these criteria and more.”
Dr. Moon’s project, titled “Valosin-containing protein: a master regulator of mRNA function and fate in ALS?,” was considered among a field of competitive proposals. The LiveLikeLou Scientific Research Committee, led by Gaylon Morris, LiveLikeLou trustee and vice chairman of the board, believes Dr. Moon’s project has the potential to uncover novel strategies for mitigating cellular stress, restoring protein expression and stopping the progression of neurodegeneration. “If we can figure out how VCP is playing a role in regulating the stress granule or how VCP helps those granules dissolve in the cell, it might give us more therapeutic targets to try and treat patients eventually,” shared Dr. Moon.
“It’s our hope that this bridge funding will help Dr. Moon answer these important questions, that could then lead to potential new treatment options,” said Morris. “But more importantly, we hope it further strengthens the contributions of LiveLikeLou’s funded researchers and the community of scientists making important discoveries for ALS.
In 2022, the LiveLikeLou Emerging ALS Researchers programs will include additional grants for promising researchers, as well as the third face-to-face scientific research forum for sixty scientists meeting in Phoenix, Arizona in July.
“Our investment in ALS discovery is unique and impactful,” said LiveLikeLou Executive Director Wendy Faust. “Our funded scientists truly are leaving ALS better than they found it.”
Dr. Moon is an assistant professor of human genetics at the University of Michigan and a faculty scholar in the Center for RNA Biomedicine. She holds a bachelor’s in chemistry and biology from Fort Lewis College, and a PhD in pathology from Colorado State University. She was a post-doctoral fellow at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and University of Colorado-Boulder. When she’s not in the lab studying the basis of human diseases, she enjoys cooking – especially if a nacho party is involved.
The LiveLikeLou Foundation’s inaugural recipients of the LiveLikeLou award in 2019 were Veronique Belzil, PhD, from the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, and Manolis Kellis, PhD, of the Broad Institute of Massachusetts (MIT). They went on to receive a $9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2021.
The 2020 recipient of the LiveLikeLou Career Development Award was Aaron Haeusler, PhD, of the Thomas Jefferson University Department of Neurosciences. The results of his study are expected in early 2022.