The ALS Centre at GF Strong is a trans-disciplinary entity providing clinical services to affected patients and their families from throughout BC. Staff in the centre are also involved in teaching residents and fellows, as well as doing clinical and basic research. The ALS Centre is staffed by four ALS specialist neurologists (Drs. Briemberg, Cashman, Krieger and Stables), as well as the highly trained ALS Team at GF Strong, which includes a nurse coordinator, physical and occupational therapist, speech and language pathologist, dietician and two social workers. The ALS Society of BC (ALSBC) and the ALS Centre have consolidated an innovative partnership to provide a successful outreach clinic program for areas of the province difficult to reach for disabled patients. Recent outreach clinics included Chilliwack, Kelowna, Prince George, Comox and Nanaimo. Despite the pandemic, the ALS clinic has been able to continue to provide comprehensive care using a combination of video health visits and in person visits throughout 2020.
Both palliative care and neurology residents regularly rotate through the ALS clinic. Clinic staff also provide didactic teaching sessions to neurology, palliative care and physiatry residents in their respective academic half days.
Three major scientific programs are being conducted at the ALS Centre. Dr. Briemberg leads clinical research for the ALS Centre. This includes participation in a national database registry for ALS patients, collaboration with ALS colleagues across Canada in an MRI biomarker study and participation in a study examining the impact of communication about ALS on patients and families. Dr Krieger is supported by grants from CIHR, NSERC and ALS-Canada. His scientific program is focused on the role of critical proteins at the neuromuscular junction of fly models of ALS, with collaboration from Dr Nick Harden of the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at SFU. Dr. Cashman is a Canada Research Chair in Neurodegeneration and Protein Misfolding Diseases at the UBC Brain Research Centre. With support from CIHR, CFI, BCKDF, ALS Canada, industry and private donations, Dr. Cashman is conducting basic research on propagated protein misfolding in ALS, defining new targets for effective therapeutics and diagnostics for the disease.