what is the core?

The Core is the world’s first and only partnership between a world-class academic institution and a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to a full-spectrum approach to ALS drug development. Our goal is to develop the first effective treatments, and ultimately a cure, for ALS.


THE CORE has made significant progress toward better therapeutic options for ALS. These accomplishments are increasing the number and testing the feasibility of potential ALS therapies, improving possible diagnostic tools in the clinic, and expediting the transition of promising drug candidates into patient populations. Among its achievements, CORE researchers have:

  • Tested >1700 chemical compounds and FDA approved drugs for other indications in our in vitro screening unit,
  • Collaborated with >20 other academic groups and biotechs to assess their ALS compounds of interest in a range of pre-clinical models,
  • Developed a novel blood-based biomarker for ALS, which we are now validating for diagnostic and prognostic purposes,
  • Moved two potential ALS drugs, jacifusen and CK0801, to people with ALS, and
  • Developed an in-house drug, Prosetin, which can penetrate the brain through straightforward oral administration, measurably rescue stressed motor neurons in all of our ALS models, provably engage a cellular pathway of interest across neurodegeneration. 

“For the first time, ALS patients can directly participate in research that will move us toward therapies that actually work…The Core provides an immensely exciting opportunity to capitalize on decades of ALS advances and translate them into meaningful treatments now.”

Neil Shneider, MD, PhD, Director of the Eleanor and Lou Gehrig ALS Center at Columbia




  • Project ALS receives permission from the US Food & Drug Administration
    to initiate Phase I clinical trial of prosetin
  • Project ALS sponsored pilot program results in initiation of Phase 3 clinical trial of ION363 (also known as jacifusen)—a novel antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) for ALS patients with a mutation in the fused in sarcoma (FUS) gene—by Ionis Pharmaceuticals 
  • Project ALS announces new Research Advisory Board representing a range of experience and expertise across the fields of neuroscience, clinical research, drug development, and technology


  • Prosetin receives Orphan Drug Designation from the US Food and Drug Administration
  • Project ALS launches research partnership with Medidata Institute targeting new, actionable insights into ALS disease progression and subtypes
  • Project ALS responds to challenges presented by the global COVID-19 pandemic and continues to move forward with new virtual fundraising efforts
ALS research


  • Project ALS announces prosetin, the first investigational drug to emerge from THE CORE as a potential treatment for ALS
  • Jaci Hermstad receives first ever dose of jacifusen, a custom antisense oligonucleotide gene therapy to address Jaci’s genetic form of ALS
  • Project ALS launches a free and open to the public webinar series featuring a range of experts for accessible, conversational updates covering research, hot topics in ALS drug development, and stories of people with ALS


  • Pre-Clinical Core identifies several drugs of promise for ALS
  • Project ALS celebrates 20th Anniversary. Over $90 million raised in 20 years with 89% going to research programs.
  • Researchers funded reaches 95 at 35 institutions worldwide
ALS research event fundraiser



  • Autophagy in ALS begins, a three-year study connecting researchers from Columbia, Cornell, UCSF, NYU and NY Genome Center
  • Salk Institute researchers show that brain cells called interneurons contribute to ALS
ALS researcher


  • Don’t-Talk-a-Thon, the first Project ALS online fundraising campaign raises $600,000 and counting
  • Establish Mass General/Project ALS Internship Program
ALS awareness campaign


  • 26 ALS genes now identified
ALS research


  • RAB adds Nobel laureate as well as renowned experts from pharmaceutical/biotech, and neuroscience
ALS Seminar


ALS Research


  • Establish P2ALS, a $15 million partnership with Johns Hopkins, Dan Doctoroff and Michael Bloomberg
  • Fund first multi-lab study focused on selective vulnerability of motor neurons in ALS
Project ALS event


  • Built first library of ALS patient cell lines, including those with genetic mutations
  • Develop “ALS In a Dish” – a helpful new tool for studying human ALS.
ALS disease research



  • Women & the Brain starts; a Project ALS-created initiative to raise awareness for brain health and support for talented neuroscientists and need-based medical students with a focus on neurology.
ALS panel


  • Project ALS/Jenifer Estess Laboratory for Stem Cell Research opens, the world’s first and only privately funded lab to focus exclusively on stem cells and ALS.
  • Estess Lab team derives first functional human motor neurons from stem cells


  • Launched largest-ever study in ALS genetics with Harvard Neurodiscovery Center
  • Premier of HBO Documentary Three Sisters: Searching for a Cure, an in-depth look at Jenifer Estess and Project ALS
  • Tales from the Bed, Jenifer’s memoir, becomes a national bestseller.
Tales from the Bed by Jenifer Estess



  • First ALS specific gene therapy experiments at the Salk Institute. Treated mice survive 33.3% longer than untreated group.
  • Original movie event Jenifer premiers on CBS and draws national attention to Project ALS
  • Jenifer Estess named a Glamour Magazine’s “Women of the Year”. Project ALS named Vanity Fair’s “It List” charity.
Jennifer Estess: 2001 Glamour Women of the Year



  • Jenifer Estess testifies before US Congress to the importance of federal funding for stem cell research in ALS
Stem Cell ALS Research Publicity


  • Project ALS team at Mass General builds first standardized cell based-assay for rapid ALS drug testing
  • First to study stem cells and ALS. Pilot studies at Children’s Hospital Boston and Johns Hopkins.
  • Gala fundraisers in NY and LA unite entertainment and corporate communities
ALS research laboratory


  • Jenifer Estess diagnosed with ALS at 35. Jenifer, her sisters, and friends start Project ALS as the first 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated solely to ALS research.
  • Board of Directors and Research Advisory Board established
  • First $1 million raised for collaborative experiments among scientists at Harvard University, Johns Hopkins, and Columbia University.
Project ALS founding team