: Strength, Science & Stories of Inspiration

Strength, Science & Stories of Inspiration

Join a New Generation's Fight Against Neuromuscular Disease* Educate*Inspire*Network*Raise Awareness

4th Annual Benefit Event October 1, 2017
MIT Kresge Auditorium 7-10 pm



Colleges & Universities

Biotech & Pharma Companies

Drugs in Development

But effective treatments for most muscle diseases do not exist - can we work together to find cures?

Research Fellowship/The Event

Information for the Strength, Science & Stories of Inspiration(SSSI)-MDA Fellowship for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars can be found HERE. All applications for the 2017 fellowship were due on March 1, 2017. Stay tuned for more information about the 2018 SSSI-MDA fellowship. Please direct all inquiries to strengthscienceandinspiration@gmail.com

Join us on the evening of October 1, 2017, at MIT Kresge Auditorium (7-10 pm), to raise awareness for muscle diseases, bring all stakeholders together, and facilitate new relationships that will accelerate progress towards treatments. Purchase tickets HERE.

Run of Show:

We have a fantastic line-up this year with many "stories of inspiration"! The show will include:

  • Rob Besecker, a motivational speaker and author living with Myotonic Dystrophy
  • Monkol Lek, a Biomedical Scientist living with Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy (LGMD)
  • Max Amini, world-renowned comedian, Comedy Central regular, and Amyotrophic Lateral Schlerosis (ALS) family member, will perform a headlining comedy show.

Our Special Guests for 2017:

Max Amini — world-renowned stand up comedian and actor, who regularly performs at The Comedy Store and Laugh Factory when not performing shows around the world. Born to Iranian parents who immigrated to the US, he started a stand-up comedy show, named "Exotic Imports", featuring second-generation Americans coming from diverse cultural backgrounds. Recently, Max's father bravely fought a personal battle against ALS, and we are fortunate to have the support of Max in the fight against muscle disease.

Rob Besecker — Rob Besecker — Author, public speaker, healthcare professional, and global traveler living with heart and muscle disease. After having a defibrillator / pacemaker installed at age 28 and being diagnosed with myotonic muscular dystrophy type II, Rob now advocates for patients, families, and organizations through his work as a hospice account manager and various nonprofits, such as Young Hearts with ICDs, Muscular Dystrophy Association, and Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation. Rising above the daily battles of his chronic disease, Rob encourages others to focus on their goals and dreams rather than their obstacles and medical limitations. He regularly travels the country attending conferences and sharing his own story of achievement and perseverance and recently finished his inspirational memoir entitled Everest Strong: Reaching New Heights with Chronic Illness.

Monkol Lek — Monkol Lek is a senior research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He leads the analysis effort at the Broad Center of Mendelian Genomics aimed at improving diagnosis of rare genetic diseases with a focus on rare muscle diseases. As a muscular dystrophy patient, he is a strong advocate of patient driven research in collaboration with academia and industry. In December, he will be starting his own research lab at Yale School of Medicine as an Assistant Professor in Genetics. Monkol is supported by the Muscular Dystrophy Development grant.


We are muscle biologists from the MIT/Harvard community, who have immediate family members affected by muscle diseases.

We met in graduate school at MIT and Harvard, and decided that in addition to using research to find cures for these debilitating disorders, we would also band together to start an event to raise awareness of muscle diseases, facilitate interactions between stakeholders in the neuromuscular disease community, and inspire the next generation of scientists to join the fight. By working together, patients, scientists, biotech, and pharmaceutical companies can make more rapid progress towards finding new cures.

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    Assistant Professor, University of Florida,
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    Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University
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    Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University
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    MBA, Boston College

Eric Wang's family is affected by myotonic dystrophy. Eric received his PhD from the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, and recently moved to University of Florida, where he studies this disease.

Sharif Tabebordbar's family is affected by Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy. Sharif received his PhD from Harvard, where he studied muscular dystrophy with Amy Wagers.

Albert Almada's family is affected by Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Albert received his PhD from MIT, and is a postdoctoral fellow with Amy Wagers at Harvard, where he also studies Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Chris Anselmo has been affected by Miyoshi Myopathy since he was 17 years old. He completed business school at Boston College in 2016. Chris also actively writes a blog hosted by MDA, where he describes both the struggles and triumphs of living with muscle disease.

Together, we represent a microcosm of the relationships that we hope to facilitate in Boston. We aim to bring together ALL stakeholders for muscle disease, including scientists, medical professionals, entrepreneurs, biotech/pharma leaders, venture capitalists, non-profits, patients, families, and the general community. We're hosting an evening of stories and entertainment - to bring together people from all different spaces and backgrounds - so that we can accelerate progress towards the goal of finding treatments for these neuromuscular diseases.



Our previous events would not have been possible without generous sponsors.

Our sponsors will support a research fellowship program, to fund innovative ideas of young investigators enthusiastic about making progress in muscle disease.


Help end muscle disease*support research*raise awareness


Donations will be used to support a research grant program geared towards encouraging innovation in the muscle disease research space. Young investigators who are already performing research in an established laboratory, but are in need of support to pursue novel, risky hypotheses are encouraged to apply. Donate HERE.


Previous Events


Our first event was held in 2013, at The Estate Boston. We brought together over 200 stakeholders for muscle disease, told our stories, and raised over $20,000 for Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation and Muscular Dystrophy Association.


This event was held at The MIT Museum. We again brought together multiple stakeholders for muscle disease, and our special guests shared their stories. Guest speakers included Christopher Anselmo, Ona McConnell, Ilan Ganot, and Pat Furlong. We raised over $20,000 for the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation and Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy.


Do you have a question or comment? Would you like to support our cause?