NEW ORLEANS - It was an ALS summit unlike any that had been done before. Former NFL player Steve Gleason invited scientists and doctors from around the world to put their minds together and collaborate on a direction to treat, and one day cure, ALS.
It's another challenge from Steve Gleason, who is asking others to change the future.
"There are so many different people working on so many and different things, but there's not, they haven't found anything that will link everything together so that they can maybe make more progress," said Paul Varisco.
Varisco is Gleason's father-in-law and the executive director of Team Gleason, and he says along with the 45 medical and science experts at the recent two-day summit in downtown New Orleans, were 80 people with ALS, their caretakers, ALS organizations and advocates who could challenge the top minds. But so could others in their homes from around the globe.
"We actually had online, we 'webcasted' and we had 1,500 people from 37 states and 9 countries also listening. And they were able to ask questions as well," said Varisco.
What Gleason wants to come out of this summit, is cutting edge research, thinking out of the box, and to challenge the scientists and clinicians to look in a brand new direction.
"Steve's encouragement to the group, in fact, he used the words to 'think like a beginner' try to, you know, you can't throw out everything that you've done, but let's try to think out of the box, think like a beginner, and start to look at this in a different way, because in spite of all the great things that have happened and what they're doing, there still is no cure," he added.
Gleason has already made a difference by challenging people to do more with communications technology at the United Nations. And soon, the first ALS patient will move into what's called 'a neighborhood' in St. Margaret's skilled nursing residence. It's outfitted to let residents be more independent, using eye-activated technology to do everyday things.
Now Gleason is at it again.
"Steve's challenge can bring them together for one common goal and with that one voice. We think we will have made great progress," Varisco said.
Team Gleason hopes to identify the scientific area it wants to focus on by the end of the year.
The one thing scientists agreed upon was the recent discovery of biomarkers that can give insight to a prognosis.
Team Gleason recently completed an epic adventure to Peru. You can see the inspirational video here:
To communicate with Steve on Twitter: