FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
St. Paul, Minn., – The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) will award the 2006 Potamkin Prize for Research in Pick’s, Alzheimer’s and Related Diseases to Bradley Hyman, MD, PhD; Karen Ashe, MD, PhD; and Karen Duff, PhD. The $100,000 Potamkin Prize will be awarded Tuesday, April 4 at the AAN Annual Meeting in San Diego, Calif. Often called the “Nobel Prize of Neurology,” the Potamkin Prize honors and rewards researchers for their work in helping advance the understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. Hyman is the John B. Penney Jr. Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. Duff is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Physiology and Neuroscience at New York University and a Principal Research Scientist for the Center for Dementia Research at the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, part of the New York State Office of Mental Health. Ashe is the Edmund Wallace and Anne Marie Tulloch Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience, Director of the Center for Memory Research and Care at the University of Minnesota, and Scientist at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center. Hyman’s research has focused on techniques used to monitor the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in mice. “Using a new technology called multiphoton microscopy we are able to watch plaques and tangles that cause dementia and monitor their consequences to the brain,” said Hyman. “This technique allows us to watch plaques and tangles in the living brain and directly observe the effects of therapeutic interventions.” Previously, the only way to clinically confirm a case of Alzheimer’s disease was through an autopsy. John H. Growdon, MD, of Harvard University, who chaired the committee that selected the Prize recipients, said, “Dr. Hyman’s early work displaying the neuronal system damage that accounts for the behavioral signs of Alzheimer’s -was key to future developments in detecting and treating the disorder. His current work involving innovative microscopic imaging techniques is a giant leap forward in the field.” Ashe’s research has examined the basis of memory loss at the molecular level in mice. “Our findings show that the clumps of amyloid-beta and tau proteins in plaques and tangles are not the main culprits of memory loss,” said Ashe. She and coworkers have discovered a different form of amyloid-beta called A? star (A?*) that impairs memory. “Now our focus will be to identify tau*, an abnormal form of tau that disrupts cognitive function.” Duff has created several models of Alzheimer’s disease and is currently looking at treatment approaches against both plaques and tangles. Her recent work has shown that a class of drugs known as kinase inhibitors that target an abnormal form of tau may be useful in treating tangles in Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. It is even possible that some of the same mechanisms that she is exploring will be important in Parkinson disease. “Some of the treatments that we have been working on are already being used in patients,” said Duff. Our work focused on pathways that are likely to be affected by the disease and treatment approaches that can be tried. Although these possibilities need refining, these findings give hope of finding a cure.” “Their work has revolutionized the way we conduct Alzheimer’s research and drug discovery,” said Growdon. “The work of these three individuals warrants recognition in that it will have a direct effect on developing treatments and finding a cure for Alzheimer’s 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 58th Annual Meeting takes place in the San Diego Convention Center, April 1-8, 2006. It is the world’s largest annual gathering of neurologists. The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 19,000 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 disease, and stroke. For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit www.aan.com.
The American Academy of Neurology is the world's largest association of neurologists and neuroscience professionals, with 34,000 members. The AAN is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. 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, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, concussion, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.