Muscular Dystrophy Association Appoints John Howell to Board of Directors


NEW YORK, Dec. 21, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- John Howell, Co-Founder and President of the ComSovereign Holding Corporation, the U.S.-based provider of 4G LTE Advanced and 5G-NR (Next Generation) communications and technology systems, has been named to the Board of Directors for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).

"It is a privilege to join the Board of MDA and serve this mission to transform the lives of people living with muscular dystrophy, ALS and related neuromuscular diseases," said Howell. "Despite the challenges of all things COVID-19, this organization pivoted quickly to a virtual environment to continue its mission serving over 300,000 people in the United States. Through our funding of research, care, and advocacy, we are changing the landscape for people with disabilities for equal access to breakthroughs in treatments and care that dramatically improve and save lives," he continued.

"In the past five years alone, MDA's efforts have led in part to 11 new FDA approved treatments for people living with neuromuscular diseases, so it is an incredibly exciting time for John to join MDA's Board of Directors as his expertise and deep commitment to our mission provides invaluable support," said Donald S. Wood, PhD, President and CEO of MDA. "John brings an invigorated spirit fueled by the hope and faith our MDA families have in our organization to strategically invest in funding research that yields scientific breakthroughs, the best care at the nation's top medical institutions, advocacy for equal access for the disability community, and essential educational community programming," he continued.

"From the generosity of millions of people, MDA has been backing 'moonshot' research efforts for 70 years, and only now we are getting to see the first incredible results of these investments through breakthroughs in gene therapy, newborn screening and care," Howell said.

Before his appointment to the Board of Directors, Howell was an early member and key advisor of MDA's Business Advisory Committee focused on pioneering venture philanthropy investments in research. Howell held senior roles within Transform-X, Inc. and TM Technologies, Inc., including as CEO of Transform-X and President of TM Global, LLC.  Prior to leading TM Global, Howell was a Co-Founder of the Willowdale Family of boutique advisory companies. Howell continues to serve as Willowdale's Non-Executive Chairman. Outside of leading efforts on behalf of Willowdale's clients, Howell is also an active leader with a number of national non-profits, particularly in the fields of children's health and veterans' affairs. Howell also serves as one of the four Directors of The Rip Van Winkle Foundation, the New York-based Foundation funded largely with proceeds from the Estate of late New York Yankee Henry "Lou" Gehrig and his wife Eleanor. Previously, Howell served the U.S. government in a variety of uniformed and civilian capacities worldwide for the United States Army and Central Intelligence Agency. Howell is both Airborne and Ranger Qualified. Howell is a Fulbright Scholar and alumnus of Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina.

Howell is not the first in his family to play a leadership role in support of the MDA and its mission.  His Grandfather was Caldwell Esselstyn, MD, the close personal friend and physician of Henry 'Lou' Gehrig, the late New York Yankee and Member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.  After Gehrig's death due to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), the condition that often bears his name, his widow, Eleanor, became one of MDA's first National Goodwill Ambassadors to help find a cure for this devastating disease. 

Howell is the son of Dr. Rodney 'Rod' Howell, the renowned geneticist who served for many years as Chairman of the MDA's Board of Directors.  Due to his successful advocacy efforts, many consider Dr. Howell to be 'the Father' of current implementation efforts of newborn screening for genetic conditions including Pompe and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).  In 2013, Dr. Howell was identified and honored as a 'Rare Disease Hero' by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), among many other honors and awards worldwide.

For 70 years, the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) has been committed to transforming the lives of people living with muscular dystrophy, ALS, and related neuromuscular diseases. We do this through innovations in science and innovations in care. As the largest source of funding for neuromuscular disease research outside of the federal government, MDA has committed more than $1 billion since our inception to accelerate the discovery of therapies and cures. Research we have supported is directly linked to life-changing therapies across multiple neuromuscular diseases. MDA's MOVR is the first and only data hub that aggregates clinical, genetic, and patient-reported data for multiple neuromuscular diseases to improve health outcomes and accelerate drug development. MDA supports the largest network of multidisciplinary clinics providing best-in-class care at more than 150 of the nation's top medical institutions. Our Resource Center serves the community with one-on-one specialized support, and we offer educational conferences, events, and materials for families and healthcare providers. MDA Advocacy supports equal access for our community, and each year thousands of children and young adults learn vital life skills and gain independence at summer camp and through recreational programs, at no cost to families. During the COVID-19 pandemic, MDA continues to produce virtual events and programming to support our community when in-person events and activities are not possible. MDA's COVID-19 guidelines and virtual events are posted at For more information, visit



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SOURCE Muscular Dystrophy Association


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