Research Staff

Photo by robert x. fogarty

Terry Heiman-Patterson, MD

Dr. Heiman-Patterson is the Director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Disorders and a Professor in the Department of Neurology at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University.  She directs the MDA/ALS Center of Hope, including the clinical and laboratory research programs. Her career has always been dedicated to research in neuromuscular diseases, most recently in ALS or Lou Gehrigs Disease. She has received more than a dozen grants to do both basic and clinical research in ALS along with other neuromuscular diseases. Under her direction, the Center of Hope has conducted clinical trials testing more than 20 different experimental treatments, while basic research is conducted using the SOD1 mouse model at the ALS Hope Foundation laboratory at Temple University School of Medicine. The laboratory uses this model to study genes that can modify the severity of the disease as well as examine whether novel treatments can extend lifespan. In addition, the lab is focused on developing new models of motor neuron disease. 

Dr. Heiman-Patterson is also committed to optimizing clinical care at the MDA/ALS Center through the multidisciplinary approach to care along with clinical research directed at extending survival and improving the quality of life. This work has led to studies that examine how to maximize the use of non-invasive ventilation (bipap) as well as better address nutritional needs. She has also initiated a program to develop the BCI (Brain computer interface) for home based use by people living with ALS in order to allow an increased independence. Finally, she is funded to examine ways to reduce care giver burden in families where the person living with ALS has cognitive involvement. She serves as Co-Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Northeast ALS Consortium (NEALS) and is a member of the ALS RG, an international study group. Dr. Heiman-Patterson has published over 90 papers, abstracts, and chapters on ALS and related motor neuron diseases, along with more than 60 more on other areas of muscle and nerve disease.

Guillermo Alexander, PhD 

Guillermo Alexander is a Professor at Drexel University College of Medicine. Dr. Alexander graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Miami in 1968. Following graduation, he entered the Air Force Officer Training School. Upon completion of officer training, was assigned to the National Parachute Test Center where he served for four years (1968-1972) as engineer in charge of the simulated human forms section of the instrumentation branch where he supervised the design, construction and repair of airborne telemetry systems for use in testing parachutes. Afterwards, he earned his MS in Biomedical Engineering from University of Miami in 1974 and his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Texas in 1982. His current research involves: 1) Basic research into the mechanisms of selective vulnerability responsible for cell death in neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS; and 2) The study of biomarkers found in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid of individuals with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), also known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). These studies are designed to provide insights into the mechanisms underlying exaggerated pain states. Dr. Alexander has worked as a scientist and professor at numerous medical institutions, has penned a number of journal articles, and has co-authored several book chapters.


Shannon Terek

Shannon is originally from Johnstown, Pennsylvania. She recently graduated from Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland with her Bachelor’s Degree in biology with a concentration in biochemistry. During her time there, she completed research using CRISPR-Cas9 to create genetic knockouts of zebrafish to observe the relationship between cancer and the immune system. In addition to research, she was also president of Caring for Kids, an organization to help better the lives of children in the local and surrounding communities, treasurer of the National Honor Society of Leadership and Success, a member of Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society, and an active performer in drama productions during her time in college.

In her words, “I am very excited to be a part of this organization where I am able to continue my love of research and help to find better treatments for those who need it!”


Victoria Scott

Victoria is a proud Philadelphia native and a first generation graduate. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the North Carolina Central University in 2014. After graduating, she accepted a research position at the University of Pennsylvania. During this time, Victoria focused on the genetics of susceptibility to virus infection that naturally-occur in inbred and genetically-manipulated mice. She also co-authored a manuscript entitled “A novel role for ceramide synthase 6 in mouse and human alcoholic steatosis.” In 2017, Victoria proudly accepted a research position at the ALS Hope foundation. Victoria’s research interest include infectious diseases as well as genetic and neurological disorders.

She is excited to be a part of a dedicated team and an exciting lab!

Remembering Jeffrey Deitch, PhD (1957 - 2013)

Dr. Deitch was the co-founder of the ALS Hope Foundation, was an Assistant Professor and Director of the Neuromuscular Research Laboratory at Drexel University College of Medicine. He earned his BS from Rutgers College and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 1986 from the University of Virginia. This was one of the first Neuroscience Graduate Programs in the country. His post-doctoral training involved pioneering studies in neuronal cell culture and laser confocal microscopy in laboratories at Albany Medical College and the New York State Department of Health. Dr. Deitch joined the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Pennsylvania as a Research Associate in 1992, and then served as Assistant Professor of Cell Biology at UMDNJ School of Osteopathic Medicine. In 1996 he joined the Department of Neurology faculty of what is now Drexel University College of Medicine. Dr. Deitch has published over 30 papers, chapters, and abstracts on studies ranging from neurodegeneration in the auditory system to groundbreaking work on the fundamental structure of neurons, and teaches extensively on Neurological topics. He was passionate about his research projects focusing on the effect of genetic background on ALS disease progression, on the potential use of "neurotrophic factors" as a therapeutic for ALS, and on developing stem cells for use in studying how ALS kills motor neurons. At the time of his death, Dr. Deitch was serving as the Chairperson of the International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations. In 2013, he was honored with the Humanitarian Award in honor of his many contributions to the global ALS community, through both research and advocacy.

The Jeffrey Deitch Travel Grant was established in his memory.