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​Pitt, UPMC to Unveil Donor Wall Highlighting $500K Donation to Advance ALS Research

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Courtney Caprara

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WHAT: A donor wall will be unveiled at UPMC Presbyterian to mark the donation of $500,000 by, a donor-advised fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation, to the University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute (UPBI) to advance research into Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

In 2015, a starting grant from the fund helped establish the Live Like Lou Center for ALS Research at UPBI. This is the second grant as part of a commitment to raise $2.5 million in five years. was established in 2011 by Neil and Suzanne Alexander, soon after Mr. Alexander was diagnosed with ALS at age 46.

WHY: Currently, there is no effective treatment for ALS, which causes progressive paralysis and eventually makes swallowing and breathing difficult, if not impossible, while sensation and cognitive function remain unaffected. Patients with ALS live two to five years after diagnosis, on average, with about 10 percent surviving for 10 years or longer. Mr. Alexander, who died in 2015, helped envision the Live Like Lou Center at UPBI to advance research into the causes of ALS, finding cures and developing technologies to help improve the quality of live for individuals with ALS.


  • Arthur S. Levine, M.D., Pitt’s senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of Medicine.
  • Peter Strick, Ph.D., Thomas Detre Professor and Chair, Department of Neurobiology, Pitt School of Medicine and scientific director of UPBI, on groundbreaking neuroscience research at Pitt.
  • Suzanne Alexander, co-founder,
  • Robert Friedlander, M.D., UPMC Professor of Neurosurgery and Neurobiology and Walter E. Dandy Professor and Chair, Department of Neurological Surgery, Pitt School of Medicine.
  • Lawrence Wechsler, M.D., Henry B. Higman Professor and Chair, Department of Neurology, Pitt School of Medicine and director of the UPMC Stroke Institute.
  • Chris Donnelly, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurobiology at Pitt, and a member of the UPBI and Live Like Lou Center for ALS Research. Dr. Donnelly’s recruitment to Pitt and his research were funded with the help of the donation.
  • Kimberley Fleming, member of the advisory board,

WHEN: 9 a.m., Monday, Nov. 21

WHERE: Scaife Hall, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, 3550 Terrace St, Pittsburgh, 15261

Note to media: To cover this event, prior arrangements must be made by contacting Arvind Suresh at or 412-509-8207.