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UMass Medical School community mourns loss of Jake Kennedy

Statement from Chancellor Michael F. Collins on death of Jake Kennedy, 65, to ALS

Jake Kennedy in 2019

On behalf of the UMass Medical School community, we extend our sincere condolences to Jake Kennedy’s family and to all who knew and loved him. Jake Kennedy died Tuesday, Oct. 13, at age 65, in his Salem, N.H., home of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

In December 2019, Jake, his beloved wife, Sparky, and their children launched the Jake Kennedy ALS Fund to support the groundbreaking ALS research underway at UMass Medical School, which is led by Robert H. Brown Jr., MD, DPhil, the Leo P. and Theresa M. LaChance Chair in Medical Research and professor of neurology. Zack Kennedy, PhD, one of Jake and Sparky’s four children, trained in Dr. Brown's laboratory and is now a postdoctoral researcher with Anastasia Khvorova, PhD,  the Remondi Family Chair in Biomedical Research and professor of RNA therapeutics and molecular medicine, and remains focused on helping to find a cure for ALS.

The entire Kennedy family embodies a selfless spirit. Each year since 1989, Jake and Sparky have organized the annual Christmas in the City celebration to brighten the holiday season for thousands of homeless children in Boston. Jake’s brother, Richard Kennedy, has lived with ALS since 2016 and serves as president of the Angel Fund for ALS, which has raised millions of dollars in support of ALS research at UMass Medical School. 

Jake’s legacy will live on through his family and friends and through the Jake Kennedy ALS Fund, which, by supporting ALS research, stands to benefit untold numbers of families for years to come.