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Weinberg Unit for
ALS Research


The Frances and Joseph Weinberg Unit for ALS Research is the first and only center in Philadelphia dedicated solely to ALS research.  The Unit was established in 2006, thanks to the generosity of Vickie and Jack Farber, under the auspices of the Farber Institute for Neurosciences at Thomas Jefferson University. Its specific mission is to fight ALS using multiple approaches, starting from the basic understanding of how ALS develops to finding effective therapies.  It comprises two laboratories that focus on different aspects of ALS pathogenesis, but work jointly with a combined team of 15 people. Projects range from the study of the basic biology of ALS to the identification of therapeutic targets and development of therapies that we test in pre-clinical studies using animal models of the disease. Convinced that sharper focus and synergy are the key to understanding this complicated disease, the two laboratories share common research strategies, tools and, ultimately, information about our findings.

The Weinberg Unit for ALS research does not see, diagnose or provide clinical care to patients.  We work on basic and pre-clinical research with the ultimate goal of informing clinical colleagues about potential therapies.  We are convinced that to succeed in stopping ALS, we have to first understand the fundamental nature of this dreadful disease.

Vickie Farber speaking at Jefferson

'When my dear father, Joe Weinberg, died of ALS almost 50 years ago, at the age of 54, I was totally devastated. It left me with a feeling of helplessness because there was nothing that I could do to help him or to fight ALS. Just watching what ALS was doing to him was unbearable, but he handled all that he went through with grace and dignity! He never once complained over the two years that ALS ravaged everything except his mind. He was just grateful that if it had to happen to anyone, better that it was to him and not any of the rest of us in the family.

 Over the years, we have been blessed to be able to establish the Farber Institute for Neurosciences and, eventually, the Weinberg Unit.

This was my primary reason for wanting to establish the Institute, to find the cause and cure of ALS. My prayer is that, in my lifetime, some progress will be made - if not a cure, then something to stop the progression of the disease. Nothing would make me happier!'

-- Vickie Farber