The proceeds from the challenge are giving ALS researchers a new constrained optimization problem.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy says the ALS Association has, in this short period of time, raised more than many of the charities included on its Philanthropy 400 list.There are relatively few cases to study, and using some of the resources to understand how ALS affects patients strikes one researcher as particularly productive.
“Right now, we’re really focused on reaching out to and acknowledging and thanking the over 2 million donors that have come to the ALS Association,” said [Carrie] Munk, the association spokeswoman. “And also working to put a process in place to make the best decisions to spend these dollars.”
Dr. Richard Bedlack, who runs the ALS clinic at the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences in Durham, North Carolina, knows how he would allocate the money. While the temptation might be to plow it all into the search for a cure, he says the biggest strides have been made in patient care and quality of life, and that would be his No. 1 priority.The marginal product of the last dollar allocated to each activity is equal.
“The chances of one of these research studies really finding meaningful disease-modifying therapy is very small,” he said. “We’re shooting in the dark. So, of course we’ve got to keep trying. But the bottom line is we’ve got to understand this disease better before we’re going to be able to fix it in most people.”