U-M doctor and research scientist wins state honor

Eva Feldman awarded ‘Michiganian of the Year’

Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neurology and research scientist at the University of Michigan Medical School, has been named one of the Detroit News’ “Michiganians of the Year” for her work.

In today's edition of the paper, Feldman was honored for her role in the first clinical trial using stem cells in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients, and for her research on many potential therapies for ALS and other neurologic diseases. She also treats patients with such life-threatening diseases.

"My patients give me the inspiration to come back to my laboratory and work as hard as I can to understand what causes this horrible disease as well as fast-track new therapies,” says Feldman.

A previous clinical trial was only helpful in ALS patients for a short time. So Feldman thought of a more specific approach, which led to the clinical trial of injecting stem cells into the spinal column of ALS patients.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved this clinical trial back in 2009, and it is currently in its first phase at Emory University in Atlanta. It may come to U-M and other sites soon.

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, affects about 30,000 Americans. It gradually terminates the neurons that control voluntary muscle movements, making them unable to send messages to muscles.

The effects of this disease are long-term and fatal, leaving people unable to move or speak. There are no known treatments currently for ALS. Once it attacks the chest diaphragm, people are unable to breathe leaving them to have respiratory problems that lead to death.

Feldman’s work has led to 225 papers, three books and 56 book chapters. She is the director of the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute at U-M and is one of the institute’s first scholars.

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