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WSU establishes Steve Gleason Institute for Neuroscience

Former WSU football player Steve Gleason will have a neuroscience center named after him. (AP)

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) – Washington State is creating a neuroscience center named for former Cougars and New Orleans Saints defensive back Steve Gleason.

The Steve Gleason Institute for Neuroscience is expected to open at the school’s satellite campus in Spokane in the second half of the year.

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Daryll DeWald, chancellor of WSU Health Sciences Spokane, said the institute will have Washington State researchers working with health care providers to bridge the gaps between care and potential treatments of neuro-degenerative diseases. That class of diseases includes ALS and Parkinson’s.

The 41-year-old Gleason, who is from Spokane, spent his entire NFL career with the Saints. A special teams standout, he played in 83 games with one start from 2000-07 while spending his last season on injured reserve after knee surgery.

On Sept. 25, 2006, Gleason famously blocked a punt by Michael Koenen of Atlanta into the end zone for a Saints touchdown in a 23-3 win – the very night the rebuilt Superdome and city of New Orleans hosted an NFL game for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. The team built a statue honoring the defining moment of his career for a city that desperately needed a lift.

Gleason has become an advocate for those with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. This is his eighth year with ALS.

In responding to the university’s announcement of the building in his name, Gleason posted on Twitter:

Last month, Gleason was honored with a Congressional Gold Medal. In receiving the award, Gleason – a father of two – noted, “In many ways, I feel I’ve conquered ALS.”