VCU Health’s ALS clinic receives Certified Treatment Center of Excellence designation

Along with the first-time designation from the ALS Association, the clinic will receive annual NIH funding of $250,000 as a member of a new ALS research consortium.

Members of VCU Health's ALS clinic, including clinic director Kelly Gwathmey, M.D., (seated, 3rd from left) during the ALS Association's certification visit. Photo courtesy of VCU Health's ALS clinic.

By Anthony DePalma VCU School of Medicine

November 10, 2023

VCU Health’s ALS clinic has received the Certified Treatment Centers of Excellence™ designation by the ALS Association. This first-time designation recognizes the center’s continued efforts in providing patients living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) compassionate, multidisciplinary care and is only one of two designated centers in Virginia. The clinic is also one of 34 centers across the U.S. and Puerto Rico to join a new national ALS clinical research consortium funded by a $16.7 million award from the National Institutes of Health. 

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects voluntary muscle movement, causing weakness, difficulty swallowing, speaking and ultimately death from respiratory failure. About 5,000 Americans are diagnosed with ALS each year, according to the CDC. VCU Health’s ALS clinic follows approximately 200 patients and actively participates in numerous clinical trials and investigator-initiated studies. 

Advancing ALS care

As a member of the Access for All in ALS Consortium, VCU will fall under the Eastern Coordinating Center, located at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Mass. The consortium will generate a biorepository and comprehensive natural history database that will be made accessible to researchers around the world. VCU Health’s ALS clinic will receive $250,000 per year for at least the next five years. 

According to Kelly Gwathmey, M.D., VCU Health’s ALS clinic director and chief of the Department of Neurology’s Division of Neuromuscular Medicine, participation in this federally supported consortium will advance the understanding of ALS pathophysiology which will hopefully result in therapeutic breakthroughs.  

“Receiving the designation of an ALS Association Certified Treatment Center of Excellence highlights VCU Health's commitment to not only delivering the highest level of evidence-based, multidisciplinary ALS care, but also distinguishes our center for our commitment to clinical research,” Gwathmey said. “We greatly look forward to continuing our successful partnership with the ALS Association which has supported the VCU Health ALS clinic to become the preeminent ALS treatment center in the region."

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