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Observations BMJ Confidential

Richard Bedlack: Positively colourful

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 20 September 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j3949
Duncan Smith


Richard Bedlack is director of the multidisciplinary ALS Clinic at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina. ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or motor neurone disease) develops unpredictably and usually results in progressive disability and shortened survival. Unexpectedly, a few people with ALS have experienced significant recovery of lost motor functions. Bedlack researches such “ALS reversals” through social networking and tries to identify what is different about them, in an “outside the box” bid for a cure. His Lunasin trial, for example, investigates the possible benefits of a peptide found in soy and some cereal grains, to which one patient attributes his ALS reversal. While some see this as dabbling with pseudoscience, Bedlack earns strong support from his patients for his openness and his hopeful, exuberant personality, expressed through brightly coloured suits.

What was your earliest ambition?

I’ve always wanted to discover something that makes the world better—a song, a fashion statement, or a cure.

What was your best career move?

Building the Duke …

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