“After the Ice Bucket: Thawing Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis with Predictive Medicine”
Cassie Mitchell, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Principal Investigator, Laboratory for Pathology Dynamics
Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University
The prolific 2014 ALS Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge commenced the world-wide dumping of ice water on the heads of courageous supporters to bring awareness and research funding to a lesser-known yet fatal neurodegenerative disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The Laboratory for Pathology Dynamics at Georgia Tech, which proudly dunked GT President Peterson during the GT ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, has been actively developing data analytics, informatics, and complex systems-based techniques to expedite preclinical and clinical ALS research. In short, we are vigorously stitching together a comprehensive quilt of ALS using thousands of data sets collected from cells, transgenic animal models, and patients. We will discuss how predictive medicine is revealing ALS etiological underpinnings and diagnostic markers; identifying epidemiological ALS patient commonalities; precisely forecasting survival in highly heterogeneous ALS populations; identifying future disease dynamics-based combination therapies in preclinical ALS animal models; and optimizing current ALS life-prolonging interventions. Finally, we will also discuss the application of the lab’s techniques to other research topics.