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Three Researchers Awarded AAN Potamkin Prize for Alzheimer’s Research
CHICAGO – The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) is awarding the 2008 Potamkin Prize to three researchers for their work in Alzheimer’s disease research. Clifford R. Jack Jr., MD, of the Mayo Clinic, and William E. Klunk, MD, PhD, and Chester A. Mathis, PhD, both with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, will receive the award during the AAN’s 60th Annual Meeting in Chicago, held April 12–19, 2008.
The Potamkin Prize honors and rewards researchers for their work in helping to advance the understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. The $100,000 prize is to be used toward continuing Alzheimer’s research and will be shared evenly between the three researchers.
The work of all three researchers involves the use of brain imaging with living patients to help visualize the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Klunk and Mathis have collaborated on the development of a novel tracer for another brain imaging technique, positron emission tomography (PET). This tracer, called Pittsburgh Compound-B or PiB, can identify the amyloid protein deposits that are characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease, but could only be confirmed at autopsy prior to the development of amyloid imaging.
“This research could help identify Alzheimer’s disease subjects earlier in the course of the disease and aid in the testing and development of new drugs capable of reversing the root cause of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Mathis.
“It could facilitate the development of newer, more effective drugs for Alzheimer's disease and allow earlier, more accurate diagnosis, so therapy could be started earlier when the chances of success are greatest,” said Klunk.
Jack has used a variety of MRI techniques to study the neurodegenerative features of Alzheimer’s disease. He has pioneered the use of MRI to understand differences in various MRI parameters among normal aging, mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease over time.
“We believe that we have helped improve the understanding of the natural history of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Jack. “We have shown that MRI measurements are meaningful markers of Alzheimer’s pathology and hence provide useful information about the stage of the disease, the likelihood that subjects will progress to dementia, and provide information that is helpful in assessing progression of the disease.”
The Potamkin Prize is made possible by the philanthropic contributions of the Potamkin family of New York, Philadelphia, and Miami. The goal of the prize is to help attract the best medical minds and most dedicated scientists in the world to the field of dementia research. The Potamkins have been the Academy’s single largest individual donor since 1988, providing more than $2 million to fund the Potamkin Prize.
The 60th Annual Meeting, one of the world’s largest gatherings of neurology professionals, takes place in the McCormick Place West Convention Center in Chicago.The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 21,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke. For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit www.aan.com.