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Lou Gehrig's disease strikes 5,000 new people each year. Barrow just got $16.7M to help fight back

Barrow Neurological Institute has received a $16.7 million award from the National Institutes of Health, its largest grant ever from that agency.

The funds will support Barrow as it helps coordinate a new national consortium to study Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Barrow will serve as the West coordinating center for the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis undertaking, called the Access for All in ALS (ALL ALS) Consortium.

Massachusetts General Hospital and Columbia University will partner on the project, which will include 34 clinical sites in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Together, they will collect biological samples over an extended period, along with clinical data that scientists can access via a web portal.

The records will include people living with ALS, those at risk for developing the disease and healthy people who will act as controls.

About 5,000 new cases of the progressive and fatal neurodegenerative disease are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.

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Nicholas Gerbis joined KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk in 2016. A longtime science, health and technology journalist and editor, his extensive background in related nonprofit and science communications inform his reporting on Earth and space sciences, neuroscience and behavioral health, and bioscience/biotechnology.Apart from travel and three years in Delaware spent earning his master’s degree in physical geography (climatology), Gerbis has spent most of his life in Arizona. He also holds a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Arizona State University’s Cronkite School and a bachelor’s degree in geography (climatology/meteorology), also from ASU.Gerbis briefly “retired in reverse” and moved from Arizona to Wisconsin, where he taught science history and science-fiction film courses at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He is glad to be back in the Valley and enjoys contributing to KJZZ’s Untold Arizona series.During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gerbis focused almost solely on coronavirus-related stories and analysis. In addition to reporting on the course of the disease and related research, he delved into deeper questions, such as the impact of shutdowns on science and medicine, the roots of vaccine reluctance and the policies that exacerbated the virus’s impact, particularly on vulnerable populations.