Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Digging Deeper – Avi Kremer, HBS, ALS and Prize4Life

If you read yesterday’s Blog posting early in the day, you may have missed the comment posted by HBS graduate, Heather March. So, here are Heather’s remarks:

Al,

Thank you so much for sharing these brave stories. I just wanted to add that Avi Kremer, my section mate with ALS, has also managed to raise, I believe, over $11M for ALS. His latest work, with Nate and other friends, is called Prize4Life and is a prize contest to find an effective treatment for ALS. I hope your readers can take the opportunity to read more about Avi's fight at the contest's web page: www.prize4life.org

I must also say thank you to you, Al, for battling the rain right along side of us at graduation. You have been such a wonderful supporter and friend for so many of us at HBS, and we were proud to have you at the ceremony.

God Bless,

Heather

* * * *

After reading Heather’s words, I clicked on the Link above to learn more about Prize4Life. What I read is a story I feel compelled to share. Here is part of what you will encounter when you take the time to visit this Website.

Website, Contest Launched to Accelerate Treatment for ALS

June 9, 2006Today marks the launch of Prize4Life, a nonprofit website and global contest with the aim of raising over $10 million to provide powerful incentives for researchers to discover an effective treatment for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

Prize4Life is being launched by Avichai "Avi" Kremer, a native of Israel, and a member of the MBA Class of 2006 at Harvard Business School, who was diagnosed in 2004 with the fatal neurodegenerative illness ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. According to his doctors, he has less than three to five years left to live.

Kremer aims to raise funds to accelerate research and the development of treatments for ALS, a rare disease that tends to be neglected by both the public and pharmaceutical companies. He plans Prize4Life to be a catalyst to increase global awareness and research investment.

Kremer wants to help solve what he believes are the largest obstacles to finding a cure: a lack of novel treatment ideas and a scarcity of venture funding to turn the best ideas from basic science into proven treatments.
Prize4Life will target researchers who are not currently focused on ALS research and will provide them with the incentives to do so. The objective is to increase the number of ALS treatment ideas in the research pipeline, thus increasing the probability of an effective result.


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The story below originally appeared last week in the Harvard Crimson, and tells more of Avi’s inspiring and touching story:

The Harvard Crimson

Student Fights Illness for MBA
By Madeline Lissner

Still battling terminal illness, Kremer is set to graduate—

In Hebrew, “chai” means life, and for the Harvard Business School classmates and professors of Avichai “Avi” Kremer (HBS 2006/I), it is no coincidence that he has been a symbol of life since he was diagnosed last fall with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Since Kremer was first diagnosed, this second-year Business School student has raised over two million dollars, facilitated discussions between competing pharmaceutical companies, and founded two companies dedicated to discovering a treatment for ALS—commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Kremer will graduate this week from the Business School and receive the prestigious Dean’s Award for his devotion to increasing ALS research and awareness.


“I always said I will walk and shake the hand of the dean at the end of the graduation ceremony,” said Kremer. “It is a small victory for me.”

FIGHTING AND FORGING

Kremer, a native of Israel, began his fight against ALS at the place to which he said he owes everything—Harvard Business School.

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative illness that causes patients to lose control over their voluntary muscles. There are over 30,000 Americans living with ALS, and most individuals diagnosed with the illness have a lifespan of three to five years.

Kremer chose not to leave Harvard and refused to accept his fate passively after his diagnosis.

“Avi instead made the extremely difficult and courageous choice of fighting back.” said Nathan M. Boaz, a close friend and classmate of Kremer.
Along with 90 of his classmates and Janice H. Hammond, the Philips professor and senior associate dean, Kremer led a candy fundraiser for Valentine’s Day and hosted an online auction for ALS research last spring.
Kremer and Boaz aimed to raise $100,000 from these endeavors—an unprecedented amount for section fundraisers. They exceeded even their own expectations, raising $150,000.


“I think that Avi and [his classmates] show what a fairly small group of human beings can do when they really get focused on a problem, when people are working together rather than at odds together,” Hammond said.
Kremer spent the following summer in Israel where he worked with 12 research projects at eight different universities to raise $2 million in ALS funding.
But now Kremer and Boaz have their eyes set on five times that amount.
After Kremer and Boaz heard of the Ansari X Prize—a $10 million competition to launch a piloted spacecraft into space twice within two weeks in 2004—Kremer said they decided to create a company based on the same business model.


“One of the big problems with ALS is that there are not a lot of novel treatment ideas coming from new places,” said Boaz.
With the help of Daniel J. Isenberg, a senior lecturer who taught Kremer in his entrepreneurial course, Boaz and Kremer founded Prize4life, a nonprofit organization that will provide $10 million worth of rewards to ALS researchers.

Boaz and Kremer will officially launch the website prize4life.org and the contest on Friday.

To better understand the pharmaceutical market, Kremer had first organized a symposium of major pharmaceutical competitors to discuss what is slowing the discovery of new treatments for ALS.

For Prize4Life, Kremer has teamed up with Robert H. Brown Jr., a leading ALS researcher at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. “One hopes that there will be a treatment, an intervention that will slow the disease,” Brown said. “Obviously the real hope is a cure. Whether that is possible, I don’t know.”

This summer, Kremer will be working on the launch of Avi Therapeutics, a for-profit biotech company that will try to commercialize academic research in the ALS field, according to Kremer.

With these two companies, Kremer said he will continue to fight. “I want to save every ALS patient who lives today,” he said.

LIVING AND LAUGHING

Kremer has devoted the past two years of his life to promoting ALS research, efforts which the larger community has recognized. Kremer is one of five recipients of the Dean’s Award for graduating MBA students who have made a positive impact on the Business School community and the well-being of society.

“He is very soft-spoken, very easy-going, and, at the same time, very, very intelligent with a great sense of humor,” said Isenberg.

But Kremer said his friends are the ones who should truly be awarded.
“These people are my engine, my north star, my support and family,” said Kremer. “I owe everything that I have achieved to them.

* * * *

I have had friends die of ALS, so I know something of the courage that Avi and his cadre of devoted friends are bringing to bear in fighting to find a cure. I plan to make a contribution. I invite you to visit the Website and consider making a contribution, as well.

My friend, Nate Boaz, one of the founders of Prize4Life, just weighed in with some more relevant information that is well worth sharing:

US military veterans are significantly more likely to contract ALS than non-veterans (see below article). Avi served in the Israeli Defense Force, attended artillery school for 6 months at Ft. Sill, OK., and achieved the rank of Captain as an MLRS commander.

www.alsa.org/files/pdf/ALS_Military_Paper.pdf

Thanks,

Nate

* * * *

http://www.prize4life.org/

I have added Prize4Life to The White Rhino's Favorite Links From A-Z (See right hand margin of Blog home page)

God bless.

Al

1 comment:

Francesca Mcniel said...

As a sign of gratitude for how my husband was saved from the dreaded ALS, i decided to reach out to those still suffering from this.
My husband was diagnosed of ALS in 2013 and it was really tough and heartbreaking for me because he was my all and the symptoms were terrible, he had difficulty swallowing, all his joints were dead and that made him immobile to mention but a few. we tried various therapies prescribed by our neurologist but none could cure him. I searched for a cure and i saw a testimony by someone who was cured and he left the contact of the doctor who had the cure in 2015. I never imagined ALS has a cure not until i contacted him and he assured me my husband will be fine. I got the herbal medication he recommended and my husband used it and in three months he was fully okay even up till this moment he is so full of life. ALS has a cure and it is a herbal cure contact the doctor for more info on josephalberteo@gmail.com on how to get the medication. Thanks for reading my story.