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Executive Committee

The Local Executive Committee [LEC]

The Local Executive Committee consists of the Wellstone MDCRC Director, Co-Directors, the Project and Core leaders and Office of Patient Communications and Liaison (OPCL). LEC members are: Drs. Emerson, Kunkel, King and Hayward in consultation with Solve FSHD and the FSHD Society.

The role of the Local Executive Committee is to maintain the existing collaborations among the principal investigators and their component projects; to foster new collaborations among the projects and determine whether the progress and goals are being met; to oversee the financial accountability and viability of the seven (7) component projects and cores, and, to plan the overall direction of the Wellstone MDCRC, long-term strategies, and new technologies.

Charles P. Emerson, Jr., Ph.D.: Director

The Director of Core A and Wellstone MDCRC is Charles P. Emerson, Jr., Ph.D. Dr. Emerson is Professor of Neurology at the UMass Chan Medical School. He is an internationally recognized developmental biologist for his research on skeletal myogenesis. He has been the recipient of NIH Career Development and Merit Awards and two NIH training grants. Dr. Emerson serves as the Wellstone MDCRC Director as well as the lead investigator in myoblast cell culture studies to understand the cellular pathology of FSHD in Project 3 and to establish a FSHD myoblast cell repository in the Resources Core C.

Louis M. Kunkel, Ph.D.: Co-Director

Louis M. Kunkel, Ph.D., MDCRC Co-Director, is the Director of the Program in Genomics at Children's Hospital, Boston. Dr. Kunkel is Professor of Pediatrics and of Genetics at Harvard Medical School. He is an internationally recognized geneticist with years of experience and scientific success in the understanding of the basis for muscular dystrophies. Over the past three decades, he has devoted his career to understanding the molecular basis of, and developing therapy for, neuromuscular disorders. Dr. Kunkel is universally recognized for the identification of the gene and encoded protein, dystrophin, which is mutated in boys with Duchenne/Becker muscular dystrophy, in 1986-1987. He has received 22 awards and honors for scientific leadership and achievement including memberships in the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, The Gardner Foundation International Award in 1989, Silvio O. Conte Decade of Brain Award in 1991, the MDS's S. Mouchly Small Scientific Achievement Award 1999, and the William Allan Award for Distinguished Service in Human Genetics in 2004. In addition to serving as Co-Director, Dr. Kunkel is the principal investigator in Project 2: RNA / RNAi profiling studies for FSHD biomarker identification.

Lawrence J. Hayward, M.D., Ph.D.: Co-Director

Lawrence J. Hayward, M.D., Ph.D., MDCRC Co-Director, is Professor of Neurology at UMass Chan Medical School. Dr. Hayward is a physician-scientist with expertise over >25 years using cellular and animal models to investigate mechanisms of neuromuscular diseases, including facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and periodic paralysis. Dr. Hayward is a board-certified neurologist and Director of the UMass Chan FSHD clinic, which provides multidisciplinary care for FSHD patients and engages FSHD families in the donation of blood and muscle tissue samples for studies of disease modifiers in Project 1. He also participates as a site P.I. for FSHD clinical trials, explores novel FSHD clinical trial outcome measures, and leads an IRB-approved FSHD biomarker study. Dr. Hayward leads the Education and Training Core and is committed to teaching neurology residents and fellows, postdoctoral researchers, and medical and graduate students. He serves as a longitudinal mentor for the UMass Chan M.D./Ph.D program and received the Award for Outstanding MD/PhD Program Mentor in 2022.

The Director and Co-Directors are responsible for:

  • fulfilling the scientific objectives of projects outlined in this Wellstone MDCRC application;
  • providing critical oversight of the scientific excellence of the component projects;
  • ensuring and maintaining a unifying research theme of the Wellstone MDCRC;
  • effective management of the Wellstone MDCRC funds;
  • establishing the three (3) cores and providing access to cores for internal and external Wellstone MDCRC researchers working on FSHD, and the;
  • leveraging synergistic interactions to maximize scientific impact of this Wellstone MDCRC.