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Roper Hospital to establish ALS research center

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The Loy Stewart Foundation for ALS Research donated $2 million to the Roper St. Francis Foundation to establish a research center dedicated to studying and finding a cure for the disease, known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Loy Stewart, chairman of the board at Detyens Shipyards Inc., was diagnosed with ALS in 2002.

By Patrick Hoff

A $2 million gift to the Roper St. Francis Foundation is being used to create a center in Charleston dedicated to researching Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The Loy Stewart Foundation for ALS Research, named for the chairman of the board at Detyens Shipyards Inc. in North Charleston, donated to the Roper St. Francis Research and Innovation Center to create the Loy Stewart and George C. Wendt Institute for ALS Research.

This is the largest donation to the Roper St. Francis Foundation since it began in 2005. The Loy Stewart Foundation has provided $1.5 million of its donation so far, with an additional $500,000 committed by the end of the year.

The donation will be used to hire a research team to identify specific markers in patients’ blood samples, which will allow physicians to screen for a disposition to ALS. Researchers will work with others around the world to find a cure for the disease.

Stewart received an ALS diagnosis in 2002. He started the foundation that bears his name in 2015 with his friend George J. Wendt, a Harvard University lecturer and fundraiser whose father, George C. Wendt, died from ALS.

Wendt met Dr. Jacobo Mintzer, executive director of the Roper St. Francis Research and Innovation Center, earlier this year.

Wendt approached Mintzer, who has been conducting research and clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease, about starting an ALS research center in Charleston, and “the stars could not have aligned more perfectly,” Wendt said in a statement. Mintzer was interested in studying ALS because of biological similarities in how Alzheimer’s and ALS attack the body.

“It’s not the ‘what,’ it’s the ‘who,” Stewart said in a statement. “I believe Dr. Mintzer’s research will hopefully lead to a cure for myself and others like me. We are hoping he can make our dream a reality.”

Reach Patrick Hoff at 843-849-3144.

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