Huntsville, Ala. – HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is giving patients a chance at finding a diagnosis with the Hero Fund. Established by an anonymous donation to the HudsonAlpha Foundation, the Hero Fund helps patients at Smith Family Clinic for Genomic Medicine who need, but cannot afford, access to genomic medicine.

Smith Family Clinic, powered by HudsonAlpha, Children’s of Alabama and UAB Medicine, uses whole genome sequencing to diagnose rare, undiagnosed and misdiagnosed disease.

Although whole genome sequencing is a comprehensive test that offers information not found in one comprehensive tool elsewhere, it is not often covered by insurance. Through the Hero Fund, qualified clinic patients have the opportunity to find answers without the financial burden.

“We named it the Hero Fund because in our world, those individuals who have these rare conditions are day-to-day heroes who really are fighting that problem every day,” said David Bick, MD, a clinical geneticist and the medical director for Smith Family Clinic. “When we find answers for these patients, it’s one of the greatest satisfactions of working here at the clinic.” 

One such patient is Jim Wall of Huntsville, Ala. Jim has struggled with back problems, balance problems and swallowing issues for more than 20 years, but just ignored the symptoms and accepted them as a part of life. After two decades of unexplained symptoms and appointments with countless specialists and clinics, Jim finally had a complete answer.

“Dr. Bick diagnosed me with spastic paraplegia type 7,” said Jim. “It was nice to find out exactly what was wrong. Without the Hero Fund, I would have never gone through this and found out the true diagnosis.

Jim tells the full story of finding a diagnosis in the following video featuring Dr. Bick and Carol Aiken, clinical operations administrator for Smith Family Clinic.

“When I’m able to call someone back and let them know that they’re approved, it brings tears to their eyes,” said Aiken, “because they knew they needed to have whole genome sequencing, but the financial means were not within reach. I can’t express to you in words what it means to make that phone call.”

Millions of individuals are suffering from rare, undiagnosed diseases and have gone years without an answer. Your donation could make a huge difference in someone’s life and put an end to their diagnostic odyssey. Give to the Hero Fund today  

About HudsonAlpha: HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is a nonprofit institute dedicated to innovating in the field of genomic technology and sciences across a spectrum of biological challenges. Opened in 2008, its mission is four-fold: sparking scientific discoveries that can impact human health and well-being; bringing genomic medicine into clinical care; fostering life sciences entrepreneurship and business growth; and encouraging the creation of a genomics-literate workforce and society. The HudsonAlpha biotechnology campus consists of 152 acres nestled within Cummings Research Park, the nation’s second largest research park. Designed to be a hothouse of biotech economic development, HudsonAlpha’s state-of-the-art facilities co-locate nonprofit scientific researchers with entrepreneurs and educators. The relationships formed on the HudsonAlpha campus encourage collaborations that produce advances in medicine and agriculture. Under the leadership of Dr. Richard M. Myers, a key collaborator on the Human Genome Project, HudsonAlpha has become a national and international leader in genetics and genomics research and biotech education and includes more than 30 diverse biotech companies on campus. To learn more about HudsonAlpha, visit:

HudsonAlpha Media Contact:
Margetta Thomas