Creating a better story

Kimberly Goslin, M.D., Ph.D., eases the way for patients who have Lou Gehrig's disease.

Dr. Goslin is a neurologist who specializes in treating people affected by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. This progressive disease of the nervous system causes motor neurons – the communication system between the brain and the body's moveable parts – to deteriorate and die. As a result, muscles in the arms and legs as well as those used for speaking, swallowing and breathing waste away.

Patients gradually lose their ability to walk, use their arms, talk, swallow and even to breathe independently. In later stages of the disease, patients become totally paralyzed. Some rely on permanent ventilator support in order to breathe. Despite progressive paralysis, patients' minds remain sharp and their senses – sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste – unaffected. It was one particular patient who prompted Dr. Goslin to devote her career to ALS.

"During my neurology residency, I met a wonderful man who had ALS," recalls Dr. Goslin. "Despite all that medicine has to offer, we could do so little for him." Futile from a curative perspective, his situation ignited her desire to create better stories for patients like him.