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Steve Gleason teaming up with WSU to open neuroscience center

SPOKANE, Wash. - ALS is a disease that leads to weakening muscles to the point of paralysis. It's also a disease that's gaining more awareness because of Spokane native, Steve Gleason. He's changed the lives of many people suffering from ALS with his non-profit, Team Gleason. Now, he's making an even bigger impact, establishing a new medical institute for people with the illness.

Gleason is working with WSU Health Sciences in Spokane to open the Steve Gleason Institute for Neuroscience. The future home for the institute is at a building on East Sprague Avenue, near the WSU Spokane campus.

Researchers here will focus on cares and cures for brain diseases - including ALS, a disease Gleason has been battling for the past eight years.  

"We envision a future for the Gleason institute will advance scientific understanding of diseases that affect so many families - and for which currently, there is no cure," said Dr. Darryll Dewald, WSU Health Sciences in Spokane.

The institute will serve as a research hub dedicated to finding cures for diseases like ALS. The announcement came out Tuesday, in front of a room full of community members, leaders, and the people who have been working on this project for more than two years.

"It will be a center of discovery for researchers, and more - a place of hope for patients with ALS," Dr. Dewald said.

Gleason, a former NFL and WSU football player, has suffered from ALS since 2011, slowly paralyzing his body.

"So many folks at that point in their life, would've kind of given up," said Kirk Schulz, WSU President.

But Gleason didn't give up. He continued to defy the odds and empower others with the same illness.

"You feel inspired that if he can continue to push, and do the things that he's doing - it kind of makes the challenges that I see in my day seem really, really small," Schulz said.

Gleason started his non-profit, Team Gleason, bringing awareness to ALS and starting conversations on what can be done to help patients. The Gleason Institute helps further that vision.

"Medical students, residents, research centers - that not just are leading in the Pacific Northwest, but are world-class research centers where people are coming from around the world," Schulz said.

The hope for the Gleason Institute is to continue pushing boundaries to find a cure until there are 'no white flags.'

Details as to how many researchers will work out of the institute and how large class sizes will be are still being finalized.

The institute still needs to hire a director and staff. Depending on funding, construction will start. If everything goes as scheduled, the Gleason Institute is expected to open later this year.


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