MDA awarded $374,511 to Oliver Hobert, professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics at Columbia University, New York, to study the function of the TDP43 gene, mutations in which can cause ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease).
"In order to diagnose and treat ALS, it is important to understand the molecular events that underlie this disease," Hobert said. The TDP43 gene, known to cause ALS in humans, "works in a manner that is not understood. Our goal is to better understand the function of this gene."
Using the invertebrate C. elegans (nematode, or roundworm) model, Hobert's team will study the TDP43 gene in order to determine its function and possible interaction with other genes.
"Funding by the MDA means a great deal to us — not just because of the financial support but also because it motivates us to direct our basic research toward questions that are medically relevant," Hobert said.
Funding for this MDA grant began August 1, 2010.