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Make a Muscle, Make a Difference®

MDA is the nation’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to funding neuromuscular disease research, health care services and education. MDA supports cutting-edge neuromuscular disease research; ensures that all Americans affected by these diseases receive treatment and critical care; and serves as a voice for families with neuromuscular disease.

In the early 1950s, Eleanor Gehrig (Mrs. Lou Gehrig) learned about the establishment of the Muscular Dystrophy Association of America. She said, "I saw that here was the answer to my personal need — people whose thirst for action was as deep as my own. I immediately offered my services."


  • MDA-funded basic research has provided the foundation for most of the experimental treatments for neuromuscular disorders currently in development.
  • MDA-supported researchers have discovered the genes underlying nearly all of the diseases in MDA’s program and are at the forefront of therapy development for these devastating disorders.
  • In 2012, MDA will fund some 300 scientific research projects around the world.
  • In 1986, MDA-supported researchers discovered the gene responsible for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, launching a new era in disease research.
  • MDA-funded basic research helped lead to the development of lifesaving, FDA-approved enzyme-replacement therapies for Pompe disease, helping babies survive and thrive and enabling those who developed Pompe later in life to enjoy longer and stronger lives.
  • MDA has a long-term strategic partnership with the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI), accelerating the process of discovering new treatments to slow, stop or even reverse ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Treatment and critical care

Neuromuscular disease affects people of all races, ethnicities and socioeconomic status. That’s why MDA works to ensure that all Americans affected by these diseases have access to specialized, knowledgeable health care.

Over the years, MDA has built the nation’s only neuromuscular clinic network, with some 200 MDA clinics — including more than 40 MDA/ALS centers for the treatment of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Each clinic is staffed by a team of top health professionals — all experts in the diagnosis and medical management of neuromuscular disease. MDA also provides free flu shots to adults and children with neuromuscular diseases, because a simple case of the flu can be life-threatening to those with weak respiratory muscles.

MDA empowers families with detailed, up-to-date information about research and health care. Thousands of pages of vital information are available free of charge at The Association also offers local, national and online seminars.

MDA was the first nonprofit organization recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Medical Association “for significant and lasting contributions to the health and welfare of humanity.”

Support and Advocacy

  • MDA offers “strength in community” for families living with a neuromuscular disease through free local support group sessions; the myMuscleTeam online care coordination and volunteer recruitment tool; MDA’s online communities on Facebook and Twitter; and regularly scheduled MDA chats.
  • MDA provides free accessible summer camps for some 3,500 kids with muscle diseases each year.
  • MDA has helped reshape public understanding of the extraordinary accomplishments made by people with disabilities. We spotlight men, women and children who are living incredible lives through the MDA SHOW of STRENGTH™, MDA’s Goodwill Ambassador program, MDA Art Collection, MDA Personal Achievement Award, MDA National Task Force on Public Awareness, and so much more.
  • MDA’s advocacy program provides a way for the million Americans affected by neuromuscular diseases to make their voices heard regarding issues that directly affect their lives.