Prize4Life Inc., the nonprofit organization founded by Harvard Business School (HBS) alumni Nathan Boaz and Andrea Marano and student Avi Kremer, announced earlier this month that it will award a $1 million prize for researchers who discover a biomarker for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
A biomarker is a distinctive biological indicator that can mark the presence or progression of a disease. Detecting biomarkers specific to a disease can help in identification, diagnosis, and treatment of those with the disease as well as those who might be at risk but are as yet asymptomatic. There are presently no known biomarkers for ALS for diagnosing or measuring the progression of the disease.
Kremer was diagnosed with ALS in October 2004 when he was a student at the Business School. Subsequently, he and sectionmates Marano and Boaz spent many months fundraising for the disease in traditional ways. Then, as Boaz said, “We realized the right incentives did not exist to draw the attention, resources, and novel ideas to ALS research that were desperately needed.” The result was the founding of Prize4Life. “We incorporated,” said Boaz “the day we graduated from HBS – in June of this year.” (Kremer has one more semester to go because he took time off to raise funds and launch several ALS projects in Israel.)