Longaberger Alumni House, where the 50th Buckeye Smart Series will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 19. Credit: Ambar Javier | Lantern Reporter

Ohio State alumni will gather today for the 50th Buckeye Smart Series, “ALS and the search for the cure.” The luncheon, hosted by Dr. Stephen Kolb, will highlight the efforts of Ohio State researchers and clinicians who strive to find a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

The program will be held in Longaberger Alumni House, with lunch from 11:30 am until noon, when the program begins.

“I will be presenting about what our multidisciplinary clinic here at OSU is all about,” said Kolb, associate professor in the department of neurology and director of the ALS/MND Multidisciplinary clinic and translational research program in the Neurological Institute.

ALS is a degenerative neurological condition that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

With more than 6,000 people diagnosed with ALS every year, the search for the cure is urgent. Those who suffer from the disease can experience constant muscle weakness, cramps, and difficulty in breathing.

Kolb will be joined by one of his patients at the luncheon, William White, four-year starter at defensive back for Ohio State, and former 11-season NFL player. White was diagnosed with ALS in 2016 and has been inspired to share his story ever since.

“William is a special person,” Kolb said. “[He is] someone who received the diagnosis and the first impulse that he had was how could he help us, which was just a wonderful gesture. He’s bringing attention to our clinic in a way that we’ve really never had before so that we can get the word out on the great work the researchers and our clinicians are doing with ALS.”

There are currently no cures for ALS, though at the Wexner Medical Center, Kolb said he is proud of the development of therapies to treat ALS patients.

“We are one of the top recruiting clinics in the country, we are doing some of the most high-profile national science projects in ALS and we have our own OSU-initiated projects that are helping us to understand why ALS happens and how we can stop it,” Kolb said.

Since January 2015, the Buckeye Smart Series has highlighted 49 unique successes of the hard work of students, faculty and staff at Ohio State, with Tuesday being the 50th.

“Buckeye Smart is a lunch and learn series that we host for our alumni,” Lauren Luffy, the Director for Lifelong Learning at the Alumni Association, said. “We are trying to showcase different faculty, staff and research that’s going on here at Ohio State so that alumni get a glimpse of some of the things that Buckeyes are doing when it comes to the community and even the world.”

Luffy encourages alumni to look out for their next Buckeye Smart Series on March 19 that will feature Tanya Menon, an associate professor at Fisher College of Business at Ohio State.