We recently announced that Prize4Life had awarded two Solvers for their progress toward finding a biomarker for ALS. Seward Rutkove, MD, an ALS researcher and clinician who has worked in the ALS field for more than 10 years, received a Progress Prize for his proposed biomarker based on the observation that electrical current flows differently through healthy vs. diseased muscle tissue and these changes in current flow can be sensitively measured. His team is developing handheld technologies capable of taking these highly sensitive measurements to determine how changes in current flow correlate with disease progression in ALS patients.
I am a neurologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, having graduated from Cornell University and Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons. I completed my neurology training at the Harvard-Longwood Neurology Program and fellowship in clinical neurophysiology and neuromuscular disease at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston.
Since 1995, I have focused my career on taking care of people with neuromuscular disorders. This includes people with relatively mild problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome, to people with more severe diseases, such as muscular dystrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Early on, I learned of the limitations of current diagnostic modalities for these conditions and became determined to improve upon them. For this reason, initially through collaboration with physicists at Northeastern University and more recently, with help from engineers at MIT, I have worked to develop and refine the technique of electrical impedance myography (EIM). This technique offers the possibility of evaluating muscle painlessly and non-invasively. The research on EIM has been funded through multiple sources including the National Institutes of Health, the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association, and the Spinal Muscular Atrophy Foundation. I was already in the process of collecting data on ALS patients when I learned of the ALS Biomarker Challenge through InnoCentive. This Challenge helped push me to improve upon our methods of data collection and to make our first handheld prototype device a reality (see http://www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/22415/).
I continue to explore and refine EIM techniques and their interpretation in the hope that they may one day be applied widely to help evaluate and treat anyone with a nerve or muscle disorder.