May is ALS Awareness Month

May is a month of renewal. The landscape turns green again. Flowers add splashes of color to nature’s palate. Critters in hibernation much of the preceding months are seen venturing out and enjoying the newfound warmth.

May is also ALS Awareness Month. ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and denotes a relentlessly progressive group of disorders that, sometimes quite rapidly and sometimes more slowly but always unfairly destroys the motor system in the spinal cord and brain that enables the muscles to move. ALS robs healthy people of their ability to walk, lift a cup, speak so they can be heard and understood, and, eventually, eat and breathe.

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Engaging Patients, Families, and Communities around Improving Emergency Medical Care

As an academic discipline and separate specialty, emergency medicine is relatively young: the first residency training program in emergency medicine in the U.S. was founded in 1970. Compare that to internal medicine, for which the first U.S. residency program was founded in 1889! Emergency medicine is an area ripe for research and hungry for definition of best practices and rigorous optimization of outcomes. But like every field of research, it holds unique challenges. Two institutes at the NIH, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), have partnered to help overcome these challenges.

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The NINDS 2021-2026 Strategic Plan: Overarching Principles

The NINDS 2021-2026 Strategic Plan evolved as a collaborative effort involving NINDS staff and stakeholders from the scientific, medical, and patient advocacy, family, and caregiver communities.  Its overarching principles are designed to serve the vision and mission of NINDS, long focused on leveraging its pre-eminence in discovery of the basic science underpinning function and dysfunction of the nervous system to ease the burden of patients and families dealing with neurological disorders.  These principles, discussed in depth in a new article published in Cell, are as follows:

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COVID-19: Impact on Biomedical Research

There has been a lot of discussion these days about the COVID-19 pandemic and its short- and long-term effects. And with good reason! The impact of the pandemic has hit us all in so many ways – physical and mental health, work and family responsibilities, economic challenges, educational timelines, to name just a few. But there is relatively little in the lay or biomedical literatures about the likely long-term effects of the pandemic on biomedical research and those who do it.

People and families affected by neurological disorders depend critically on neuroscience and neurology research for new answers and solutions to the disorders that challenge them. What impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had on this research and its workforce, and which of these effects are likely to outlast the pandemic itself?

AAN President Orly Avitzur, M.D. moderates a panel featuring (from left to right): Nina Schor, M.D., Ph.D., Merit Cudkowicz, M.D., and Brenda Branwell, M.D.
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A Look at WHY Underrepresented Populations Leave Neuroscience Research

In “Factors that Influence Career Choice Among Different Populations of Neuroscience Trainees,” published recently in eNeuro, NINDS program director Lauren Ullrich, Ph.D., and fellow authors bring to light many issues about why women and individuals from underrepresented populations leave the neuroscience field at rates higher than men and Whites. They are less often first authors of papers, publish in journals with lower impact factors, and less often submit grants through the “special,” more honorific mechanisms NIH has to offer.

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