The Heart of Our Mission

MDA is committed to accelerating progress for its families fighting muscular dystrophy, ALS and related life-threatening diseases

by Steven M. Derks on October 8, 2015 - 9:21am

Quest Fall 2015

Each day across America, the children and adults we serve and represent demonstrate inspiring can-do spirit and strength, often defying remarkable odds through their actions — from unforgettable events like walking a daughter down the aisle, skydiving or hiking the Grand Canyon, to everyday moments like starting kindergarten, going to college or sharing a laugh with a loved one. 

MDA President and CEO Steven M. Derks

MDA families are — and always have been — at the heart of MDA’s lifesaving mission. We were started by families, for families, and we are 100 percent dedicated to freeing families from the harmful effects of muscle-debilitating diseases. Along the way, we work hard to help families have more of these unforgettable and everyday moments with fewer barriers.

With the families we serve in the forefront, I am encouraged by the partnership and collaboration of the neuromuscular disease community to achieve progress. We know it will take all of us working together to achieve our shared mission. In turn, MDA has been working to expand its collaborative relationships with researchers, clinicians, and both nonprofit and for-profit partners. We are excited to be involved in new partnerships with CureDuchenne, the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance and numerous ALS groups, and we continue to move ahead and make progress through ongoing partnerships with the American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine and Genzyme. These relationships will enable us to align resources and focus efforts for faster impact.

Certainly, we have an urgent focus to accelerate treatments and cures. Since our last issue of Quest, MDA has awarded $10 million in new research grants to the best and brightest researchers across the globe. These new grants are supporting studies seeking to advance our understanding and discovery across the full spectrum of neuromuscular diseases. Therapy development is getting a greater percentage of these grants, given the great progress that has occurred in that field during many decades of past MDA basic science investments.

We are seeing exciting, promising advances and continue to develop new ways to provide the best care to kids and adults fighting these devastating diseases. Here are a few significant developments to expect in the coming months:

  • Expanding clinical trials through enhanced partnerships with medical institutions and drug developers. 
  • Using new channels to connect families and caregivers to more and better resources.
  • Refreshing the MDA brand, including rolling out a new MDA website with advanced capabilities early next year.
  • Establishing a new corporate engagement and recognition program to give our generous partners enhanced avenues through which to support families and fuel progress.

As you’ll see in the subsequent pages and at, our families’ compelling stories of strength, determination and resilience inspire us and help raise awareness for the diseases we fight. With the holidays and family gatherings fast approaching, I want to thank all of you who proudly support MDA’s lifesaving mission. Your continued support helps translate this hope into strength that is yielding answers. 

Best wishes for a wonderful fall season from our MDA family to yours,

Steven M. Derks
President and CEO
Muscular Dystrophy Association

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