Christopher Pendergast, through proceeds from the Ride for Life organization, is donating $500,000 for the development of an ALS Clinical Trials Program at Stony Brook. With Pendergast are: Patricia K. Coyle, M.D., Professor and Acting Chair, Department of Neurology; and Kenneth Kaushansky, M.D., M.A.C.P., Senior Vice President for the Health Sciences, and Dean of the School of Medicine.
STONY BROOK, N.Y., April 3, 2012 – Christopher Pendergast, who has battled amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) for 19 years, is donating $500,000 through proceeds from the Ride for Life organization he founded, to support the development of an ALS Clinical Trials Program at the Stony Brook ALS Center of Excellence named in his honor in 2010. The Christopher Pendergast ALS Center of Excellence is the only ALS Association certified center on Long Island. The gift will be matched by the Simons Challenge Grant, providing a total impact of $1 million to help fund clinical research in hopes of finding a cure for ALS, a fatal disease.
ALS is a neurological disorder also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It is characterized by progressive degeneration of nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain. The breadth of research in ALS continues to grow. There has been progress in understanding ALS disease pathogenesis and in new approaches to potential treatments based on stem cell therapies, gene therapies, and immunotherapy.
“Clinical research is an important component in the search for a breakthrough treatment against this devastating disease,” says Samuel L. Stanley, M.D., President of Stony Brook University.
“Christopher’s generous gift will enable the University to advance its collaborative ALS research and for the Center of Excellence to expand its use of promising treatments to patients through the development of new clinical trials.”
“We are thrilled to be the recipient of this outstanding support,” says Kenneth Kaushansky, M.D., M.A.C.P., Senior Vice President for the Health Sciences, and Dean of the School of Medicine. “The funds will help us to increase the Center’s participation in national clinical trials, and for the School of Medicine to hire additional experts in the area of clinical trials research.”
Recognized nationally for his patient advocacy, Pendergast was a major force behind the opening of a comprehensive ALS clinic at Stony Brook in 2002. Prior to that, he envisioned the need for a full-service ALS treatment facility on Long Island for patients and their families and presented this need to the School of Medicine. Pendergast’s advocacy and service helped to build a clinic at Stony Brook that has grown into a multidisciplinary practice that is the only full-service ALS treatment clinic on Long Island. By 2009, the ALS Association recognized the Stony Brook clinic as an ALS Center of Excellence.
In December 2010, the ALS Center was named after Pendergast because of his integral role in its development and in helping to advance treatment for ALS patients nationally. During the naming ceremony, Pendergast was recognized widely by the School of Medicine and entire University; the ALS Association, New York Chapter, and numerous elected officials.
A top priority of the Simons Gift and Challenge Grant is to build research within the Stony Brook School of Medicine. One of the three major research areas the Simons Gift will focus on is the neurosciences.
Through proceeds from the Ride for Life, Pendergast has contributed to date more than $400,000 to patient care services provided at the Center. The Ride for Life Foundation will continue to help fund the Center’s patient support programs.
About Stony Brook School of Medicine:
Established in 1971, the Stony Brook School of Medicine includes 25 academic departments. The three missions of the School are to advance the understanding of the origins of human health and disease, train the next generation of committed, curious and highly capable physicians, and deliver word-class compassionate healthcare. As a member of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and a Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) accredited medical school, Stony Brook is one of the foremost institutes of higher medical education in the country. Each year the School trains nearly 500 medical students and over 480 medical residents and fellows. Faculty research includes National Institutes of Health-sponsored programs in neurological diseases, cancer, cardiovascular disorders, biomedical imaging, regenerative medicine, infectious diseases, and many other topics. Physicians on the School of Medicine faculty deliver world class medical care through more than 30,000 inpatient, 80,000 emergency room, and approximately 350,000 outpatient visits annually at Stony Brook University Hospital and affiliated clinical programs, making its clinical services one of the largest and highest quality on Long Island, New York. To learn more, visit www.medicine.stonybrookmedicine.edu