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Denise A. Figlewicz, PhD – Vice President Research at ALS Society of Canada
Denise Figlewicz, PhD, was promoted to Vice President Research at the ALS Society of Canada on May 11, 2009. She leads the development and implementation of a national ALS research strategy focusing on understanding the cause and cure for ALS.
By: Bobbi Greenberg
“In the 2½ years of Denise’s tenure, the profile of our organization and its research mandate have been elevated significantly and our stature as a research funding agency firmly established,”
At the ALS Society of Canada, Dr. Figlewicz leads the development and implementation of a national ALS research strategy focusing on understanding the cause and cure for ALS. She represents the Society among scientific and research communities world-wide and acts as an advisor to scientists, government officials and industry leaders seeking advice in the ALS research field.
Dr. Figlewicz's research career has focused on mammalian nervous system development and pathology, specifically molecular genetic and cell approaches to investigate neuromuscular diseases, such as ALS. Her research has taken advantage of the powerful new methodologies of molecular genetics to better understand the pathogenesis of human neuromuscular disorders, both inherited and sporadic.
In 2004, Dr. Figlewicz began a new initiative to identify ALS susceptibility genes, taking advantage of the genetic differences between different inbred mouse strains to study alterations of motor neuron diseases phenotype in mutant SOD1 over-expressing mice.
Dr. Figlewicz and Dr. Guy Rouleau were part of the international consortium that discovered the first gene responsible for the familial form of ALS in 1993. This breakthrough paves the way toward the development of treatments for the hereditary form of the disease.
Dr. Figlewicz is associate editor of the journal, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. She has authored more than 75 articles in peer-reviewed publications such as Journal of Neurochemistry, Journal of Neuroscience, Neurology, Muscle & Nerve, New England Journal of Medicine, Genomics, Nucleic Acids Research, Neuromuscular Disorders, Nature, Annals of Neurology and Nature Genetics.
Her scientific activities include being a reviewer for Muscular Dystrophy (U.S.), Muscular Dystrophy Canada, Medical Research Council of Canada, Motor Neurone Disease Association, U.K., French Muscular Dystrophy Association, National Institutes of Health (U.S.), The ALS Association, the Wellcome Trust, U.K., as well as a reviewer for numerous scientific journals.
Prior to joining ALS Canada, Dr. Figlewicz was Associate Professor and Research Scientist, Neurology Department, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Dr. Figlewicz received her PhD in Biochemistry and completed her post-doctoral work at the National Institutes of Health and National Naval Medical Research Institute, both in Bethesda, Maryland. She has been involved in the ALS research field since the 1980s.
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ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rapidly progressive and fatal neuromuscular disorder that causes the degeneration of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. ALS can affect men and women from any ethnic origin at any age. Approximately 2,500 to 3,000 Canadians are living with the disease. Eighty per cent of those affected will die within two to five years of diagnosis.
The ALS Society of Canada, founded in 1977, is the only national voluntary health organization dedicated solely to the fight against ALS and support for those living with ALS. ALS Canada funds research towards a cure for ALS, supports the provincial ALS societies in the provision of quality care for those living with ALS, and provides information to build public awareness about the disease. The vision of the ALS Society of Canada is to find a cure for ALS.
Page Updated Last on: May 19, 2009