"The Institute has grown in size and become known for being a leader in inherited disorders and all types of brain disease."
View full interview to learn more about the Moser's work and the expansion of research initiatives at the Institute.
Ann Moser and her husband, Dr. Hugo W. Moser, came to the Institute in 1976, when Dr. Moser was appointed as the Institute's new director. At this time, the field of neurology was still in its infancy and the Institute's leadership was looking to recruit scientists who could bring more basic research to the developmental disabilities community. The Mosers, who previously studied rare metabolic disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, were the perfect fit.
"In 1976, there was patient-related research, but there wasn't any basic research. It just didn't exist," says Mrs. Moser. In an effort to bring more basic research to Kennedy Krieger, Dr. Moser spent many of his early years at the Institute writing grants for basic research funding. Mrs. Moser recalls, "He [Dr. Moser] was fortunate enough to get one of the 12 basic research grants funded by public law to support research in developmental disabilities."
Funding secured, the Mosers began researching adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), a rare inherited disorder that leads to progressive brain damage and ultimately, death. Mrs. Moser worked with her husband to establish methods of early diagnosis for ALD and the efficacy of Lorenzo's Oil to prevent its onset, a groundbreaking step forward in the treatment of the disease.
With their collaborator, Dr. Yasuo Kishimoto, who discovered the role played by long chain fatty acids in the disorder, the Mosers developed the first screening test for ALD. "We first developed a test on cultured cells, where we measured the very long chain fatty acids in the cells, so we could give physicians a yes or no diagnosis as to whether the patient had ALD," says Mrs. Moser.
Not only were the Mosers passionate about their research, they were also passionate about sharing this research with others. "My husband approached the Kennedy Foundation for money to fund young pediatricians, pediatric neurologists, and basic scientists to work at the Institute on neurodevelopmental disabilities," recalls Mrs. Moser. As a result of Dr. Moser's efforts, the Kennedy family agreed to fund six fellows for a two-year period to help give those individuals a jumpstart in their careers. "These individuals went on to become senior researchers in the field," says Mrs. Moser. "That's the whole purpose of this idea of training individuals to work in the field of developmental disabilities -- it spreads research from key centers to other centers."
Dr. Moser, the remarkable individual for whom the Hugo Moser Research Institute at Kennedy Krieger Institute is now named, passed away in 2007. Mrs. Moser continues to work on ALD and other metabolic disorders and has played a significant role in helping to develop a simple assay that will facilitate universal screening for ALD at birth.
Visit research.kennedykrieger.org to learn more about the Institute's research initiatives.