Coalition of Alzheimer's Organizations Announces New "Genius Grant" for Younger Researchers

Posted: Jun. 4, 2007

In an effort to support the next generation of leading Alzheimer's researchers, the Cure Alzheimer's Fund has joined with the Alzheimer's Association and the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute to create and fund a new "genius grant" for young Alzheimer's researchers.

 

he new prize called Tomorrow’s Leaders in Alzheimer’s Disease Research honors the legacies of two pioneering Alzheimer researchers – George G. Glenner, M.D., and Leon J. Thal, M.D. The sponsoring organizations are the Alzheimer’s Association, the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, and the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute, who each have committed $100,000 annually to fund the prizes. he announcement came at the 2007 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on the Prevention of Dementia, in Washington, D.C.

Each $100,000 Tomorrow’s Leaders in Alzheimer’s Disease Research award recognizes the work of a promising M.D. or Ph.D. Alzheimer’s disease investigator who has made pivotal recent contributions to the goal of eliminating Alzheimer’s.

“The Alzheimer’s Association is very excited to be part of the creation of another innovative vehicle for funding young scientists,” said William Thies, PhD, vice president for Medical & Scientific Relations at the Alzheimer’s Association.

“The award honors extraordinary current achievement and outstanding potential for future discoveries,” said Tim Armour, President and CEO, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. “It is a unique award in this field that we hope will both reward and inspire the most innovative researchers to continue their focus on Alzheimer’s research as a career path.”

Modeled on other genius grants, the prize funds may be used for any purpose at the discretion of each winner. The co-sponsors expect to award prizes each year based on the quality of the applications. More information about the 2008 Tomorrow’s Leaders in Alzheimer’s Disease Research awards, nomination procedures and deadlines will be available November 2007.

“We welcome additional partners to join the initiative, broaden this effort to honor outstanding scientists and move the Alzheimer’s field forward,” said Zaven Khachaturian, Ph.D., President of the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute. “We anticipate that the number of awards will increase as additional organizations join, and that this will grow into a major vehicle for recognizing scientific achievement, creativity and vision in the Alzheimer’s research field.”

Glenner (1928–1995) headed the molecular pathology section and chaired the Department of Medicine and Physiology at the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences at the National Institutes of Health from 1958 to 1980. In 1982, he assumed a post as research pathologist in the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine. Two years later, Glenner and his assistant, Cai’ne Wong, announced the isolation and identification of beta-amyloid and its connection with Alzheimer’s. Their watershed research set the cornerstone for the amyloid hypothesis, the leading theoretical framework for understanding Alzheimer’s and the basis of the most promising emerging “disease-modifying” treatments.

Thal (1944–2007), a visionary in conceptualizing and designing Alzheimer clinical studies, led an unparalleled clinical research effort, including some of the trials that established the most important current symptomatic treatments. Since 1994, Thal headed the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS), an 80-site clinical research consortium in the United States and Canada. He also directed the University of California at San Diego’s Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Center, established in 1984 as one of the original five centers funded by the National Institute on Aging. In addition, he chaired UCSD’s Department of Neurosciences.

“In all their various roles, Leon Thal and George Glenner were celebrated as collaborators, consensus-builders and mentors,” said Harry Johns, President and CEO, Alzheimer’s Association. “To honor this collegial spirit, an organizing principle of the Tomorrow’s Leaders in Alzheimer’s Disease Research Prize is collaboration among sponsoring institutions.”

The Alzheimer’s Association is the first and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to finding prevention methods, treatments and an eventual cure for Alzheimer’s. Since its founding in 1980, the Association has awarded more than $200 million in research grants. For more than 25 years, the Association has provided reliable information and care consultation; created services for families; increased funding for dementia research; and influenced public policy changes. Please visit www.alz.org.

Cure Alzheimer's Fund TM is a 501c3 public charity whose mission is to fund research with the highest probability of slowing, stopping or reversing Alzheimer's disease. Cure Alzheimer’s Fund is characterized by a venture approach to philanthropy in which all expenses and overhead is paid for by its founders and all contributions go directly to research. The Foundation has no financial or intellectual property interest in the research funded, and will make known the results of all funded research as soon as possible. Cure Alzheimer’s Fund is a national organization with offices in Boston and Pittsburgh. Please visit. www.curealzfund.org.

The Lou Ruvo Brain Institute (LRBI) seeks to accelerate the discovery of cures for memory disorders and dementia associated with diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS. The Institute fosters the creation of worldwide cooperative research networks to develop new detection technologies for early and accurate diagnosis of dementia and facilitate the development of treatments for various forms of memory impairments. The LRBI aims to build a unique national research resource to accelerate the process of testing new interventions. Please visit www.keepmemoryalive.org.

 

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