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Kellogg alums fundraise for Northwestern ALS research in honor of friend and former classmate

Pictured: Esteban Bullrich (back right), and fellow Kellogg classmates Felipe Calderon (left), Scott Gilbertson (back left), Bronwyn Poole (center), and Peter Schmitz (right) co-led a 1995 Kellogg Outdoor Adventure trip to Mexico.

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May 30, 2023

Esteban Bullrich, ’96 MBA, made a profound impression upon the people he has met around the world, both during his time at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and throughout his career as an education advocate and respected political leader in his home country of Argentina.

When describing Bullrich, friends note his dedication to public service, passionate drive for social justice, and generosity in time and spirit to support those in need. So when he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2021, a band of former Kellogg classmates sprang into action.

“He's just a really great guy, and you know, everybody says that about their friends, but I always knew he would dedicate his life to improving the lives of others,” says Peter Schmitz, ’96 MBA, who along with his wife Bronwyn Poole, ’96 MBA, have maintained a close friendship with Bullrich over the past 29 years.

ALS is a progressive and fatal neurodegenerative disease with an average survival rate of three years. There are an estimated 350,000 cases of ALS worldwide, and the symptoms and progression of the disease can vary greatly by person. The degeneration of neurons leads to muscle weakness and impaired speaking, swallowing, and breathing, eventually causing paralysis and death.

“This disease does not define me,” Bullrich announced in April 2021, when he was serving in the Argentine Senate. “I live a happy and wonderful life and this challenge confronts me with the need to do more things and to do them better.” As the disease progressed, Bullrich resigned from the Senate in December 2021 but remained steadfast in his faith and determination to bring together opposing parties for the good of his country.

After receiving his diagnosis, Bullrich began to search for ALS medical experts, and he turned to his alma mater. At Northwestern, the Les Turner ALS Center is delivering on its mission to strive for a future without ALS by accelerating leading-edge research while providing life-enhancing treatment to people living with ALS. For over 40 years, Northwestern has made great strides in understanding the disease and developing innovative treatment strategies for patients.

Bullrich learned early on that, given the disease’s rapid progression, he was unlikely to bear witness to a cure—but that didn’t deter him from using his platform to steer resources toward ALS research so that others might one day experience brighter outcomes.

In 2021, he established the Esteban Bullrich Foundation to fund ALS research and help families and ALS patients access medical support, cutting-edge research, and diagnostic tools. He has also appeared numerous times in the news media to raise awareness of ALS by sharing his personal story.

“He sees this personal challenge as an opportunity,” Poole said. “He is dedicating his remaining time to his wife Maria Eugenia, his five children and promoting awareness, education, and finding a cure for ALS.”

Bullrich’s friends hope that raising funds for the ALS Center in Bullrich’s name will honor his legacy of compassion and charity.

“We are grateful for and inspired by those fundraising on behalf of Esteban Bullrich,” said Robert Kalb, MD, director of the Les Turner ALS Center at Northwestern Medicine and the Joan and Paul Rubschlager Professor of Neurology. “This devastating disease does not discriminate, and with every new case, we are acutely aware of the urgency to find a cure. Support for our research ensures our scientists and clinicians can continue to work tirelessly to find a way to end the suffering of ALS patients and their loved ones."

If you have any questions, please contact Andrew Christopherson at or 312-503-3080.