Answer ALS Announces Grants Totaling $7 Million

NEW ORLEANS – October 31, 2018, The Answer ALS Foundation today announces two gifts totaling $7 million. Caterpillar Inc. has contributed $4 million, and the Stay Strong vs ALS Fund has contributed $3 million. Stay Strong was founded by Ed Rapp, former Caterpillar Group President, who is living with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

The gifts will support the aggressive and ongoing Answer ALS research project. Answer ALS is the single largest collaborative and comprehensive ALS research project ever undertaken. It is working to fully understand and set the stage for defeating the disease. Big data, artificial intelligence, and an open-source mandate are at the core of the project to drive unprecedented analysis capabilities from over 1000 research participants, eight leading ALS clinical institutions, nearly two dozen program partners, and more than 100 researchers.

“Caterpillar is proud to support Answer ALS and the innovative work they’re doing to find a cure for this disease that tragically affects many people, including Caterpillar employees, our dealers, our customers and their families,” said Caterpillar CEO Jim Umpleby. “We believe their work to unite the global research community has the potential to greatly accelerate progress and results.”

“My years at Caterpillar taught me great innovation comes from great collaboration, which is what attracted me to Answer ALS shortly after my diagnosis,” said Ed Rapp, former Caterpillar Group President. “Supported by the Stay Strong community, we are just trying to make a difference in what is a tough disease.”

ALS is a devastating, progressive and fatal neuromuscular illness for which there is no effective treatment. In ALS, gradual degeneration of motor nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord causes increased difficulty swallowing and breathing, and eventually leads to paralysis. A new person is diagnosed with ALS every 90 minutes in the United States with an average life span of two to five years from diagnosis.

“This is an unprecedented approach to understanding and defeating the disease,” said Dr. Jeffrey Rothstein, Director of the Brain Science Institute and the Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins University and the Executive Director of Answer ALS Research. “An exciting and important focus with this massive project is that all of this data is being made publicly available with open access to ALS researchers worldwide, so that we can make faster and greater strides together to find a treatment or cure for this disease.”

This research project could also provide a deeper understanding of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.