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ALS Research

January 23, 2024

Former Lawmaker Raises Millions for ALS Research While Facing His Own Mortality

Ask students: What neurodegenerative disease was Doctoroff diagnosed with in 2021? When did he start the nonprofit organization Target ALS?


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Some 30,000 Americans have been diagnosed with ALS, the rare neurodegenerative condition also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. As researchers work for a cure, one patient is raising millions for the cause while he reckons with his own mortality. The story is part of NewsHour's series, Disability Reframed, with Judy Woodruff. More lessons from the series can be found here.

For a transcript of this story, click here.

Remote video URL

Key Terms

  • neurodegenerative — nerve cells in the brain lose function over time and ultimately die
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) — formerly known as Lou Gehrig's disease; a neurological disorder that affects motor neurons, or nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement and breathing

Discussion Questions

  1. Who is Dan Doctoroff?
  2. What neurodegenerative disease was Doctoroff diagnosed with in 2021?
  3. When did Doctoroff start the nonprofit organization Target ALS?
  4. Why is there optimism around Doctoroff's organization?
  5. Where is cutting-edge research on ALS being conducted?

Focus Questions

What is the mission of Target ALS?

Media literacy: Where can students find out more about under-acknowledged diseases such as ALS? What do you think might be the unintended result when the news media does not report on diseases like ALS as much as other diseases that affect more people?

Extension Activity

Watch this video and answer the following question: What does it mean to defy something like a devastating disease and other challenges in life that may seem overwhelming?

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Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Classroom.

PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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