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Robert H. Brown Jr., DPhil, MD

Robert H. Brown Jr., DPhil, MD, the Leo P. and Theresa M. LaChance Chair in Medical Research and chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and UMass Memorial Medical Center, is an internationally known researcher and physician leading the quest to cure neurodegenerative and neuromuscular diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Renowned for his groundbreaking basic and clinical research on the inherited and genetic basis of neurodegenerative and neuromuscular diseases, Dr. Brown has a record of significant discoveries in identifying gene defects that elucidate how ALS causes neurons to die. In 1993, a team of researchers led by Dr. Brown discovered the first gene linked to the inherited form of ALS, called SOD1.

Dr. Brown's laboratory has focused on the identification of gene defects that elucidate the molecular pathogenesis of selected neuromuscular diseases including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease), muscular dystrophy, adrenoleukodystrophy, hereditary neuropathy and hyperkalemic periodic paralysis. Knowledge of theses disease genes has facilitated the creation of mouse and cell-based models of these disorders. In turn, these resources have allowed study of therapeutic strategies using conventional small molecule approaches and new modalities such as inhibitory RNAi.