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Dr. Benjamin Brooks was awarded the International Alliance Forbes Norris Award for his contribution to the management of, and advances in, understanding ALS/MND at the International ALS/MND Symposium opening session in Chicago in December 2012. Dr Brooks has been involved in the care of people living with ALS/MND for over 40 years. During that time he has been instrumental in ALS/MND research and in developing diagnostic criteria and the ALS functional rating scale. He has published over 90 papers.
Dr Brooks, director at Carolinas Neuromuscular/ALS-MDA Center in Charlotte, USA, served as a lead investigator in a recent breakthrough that provided some hope to the ALS/MND community that significant advances in the treatment of the disease, and others like it, are on the horizon.
Brooks was part of a team of researchers affiliated with Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine who found that a faulty protein recycling system in the body's neurons causes both familial and sporadic ALS/MND. Brooks co-authored a report of the findings with lead researcher Dr. Teepu Siddique of the Davee Department of Neurology and Clinical Neurosciences at Northwestern/Feinberg.
Brooks said the discovery about the malfunctioning protein recycling system is like a neighborhood that no longer has a regular garbage collector.
"It's sort of like clearing out the trash from your street. There's a normal mechanism that does that, and if you don't do that, that trash builds up, and cars can't get through the street."
As a result of the accumulation, neurons responsible for controlling muscle movement are damaged and eventually die.
You can view Dee Holden Norris presenting the award here
This Award, first presented in 1994, was inaugurated by the International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations in memory of Dr Forbes (Ted) Norris a neurologist dedicated to helping people with ALS/MND. Forbes Holden Norris, MD 1928 – 1993 Forbes Norris, known as “Ted” to his friends, was born in Virginia, USA and was a graduate of Harvard College and Medical School. An internship at Johns Hopkins and a residency at the National Institutes of Health inspired his interest in Motor Neuron Diseases, which became his professional life’s work. He pioneered much of the early basic science research, though his ultimate legacy may be his advocacy for aggressive clinical intervention in ALS/MND inspiring dignity and hope in an otherwise hopeless disease. This compassionate concern endeared him forever in the hearts and minds of ALS/MND patients, their families, and clinicians everywhere. The Award is to encourage a combination of two major qualities, management of, and advances in understanding ALS/MND, to the benefit of people living with ALS/MND.
Photograph with kind permission Rod Harris MND Victoria