Signals Blog


You have to be living under a rock – or perhaps spending every minute of your time culturing your cells – to be unaware of the ALS #Icebucketchallenge. Since it began on July 29 on social media, the American ALS Association has raised millions (nearly $42 million at the time of writing) in donations to support research for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  The viral campaign has been reported by traditional media too, thanks to the celebrities and well-known personalities who have poured buckets of ice water over their heads and challenged others to do the same or cough up a $100 donation to the charity.

The Challenge has also gone a long way to raise awareness of a disease that is 100 per cent fatal and causes people to lose control of voluntary muscle movement and progressively lose their ability to eat, speak, walk and eventually breathe. There’s a good selection of celebrity videos here and, if that’s not enough, you can watch the top 50 best celebrity ALS ice bucket challenge videos here:

Why talk about the ALS #Icebucketbhallenge on Signals? What is the connection to stem cells and/or regenerative medicine? Well, in a happy coincidence, the good people over at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) produced a video about ALS that does a great job of explaining the disease – a goal of the ALS campaign – and sharing some exciting research developments. This video was submitted to a stem cell video contest, recently launched by Professor Paul Knoepfler.

The CIRM video came in second place. To watch the winning video, the third place entry and the fabulous fourth place finisher (too much? You’ve figured out it’s a CCRM production?) please click here.

Ironically, the day I finished writing this blog, a friend nominated me to take the ALS #Icebucketchallenge and there’s video evidence to prove that I did. Perhaps that will be the subject of a future Right Turn.

To make your donation to the ALS Society of Canada, please click here.

Our regular feature, Right Turn, showcases the “lighter” side of stem cells and regenerative medicine. Every Friday, we will bring you cartoons, photos, videos and other content that may be just as thought provoking as the written submissions that you are used to finding here, but they definitely won’t be blogs.

As always, we welcome your feedback and we also welcome suitable submissions. Be creative! Use the right (!) side of your brain. Make us laugh! Let’s see if we can make this new direction a positive one for all of us. Send your submission to info(at)

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Stacey Johnson

Stacey Johnson

For almost 20 years, Stacey has been providing strategic communications counsel to government, corporate, technology and health organizations. Prior to that, Stacey was at the CTV Television Network, first as a researcher, then as a story producer for “Goldhawk Fights Back,” a special ombudsman segment that aired weekly on the National News and Canada AM. Before joining CCRM as the Director, Communications and Marketing, Stacey was the Director of Communications for the Canadian Arthritis Network. Stacey is editor of Signals. You can follow Stacey on Twitter @msstaceyerin.