The Alzheimer’s field has lost another pioneer with the passing of Jacques Nunez, who died on February 10.
For most of his career, Nunez was a biochemist at INSERM in France, where he studied tau and MAP2 in axonal and dendritic growth. He is best known for the landmark paper that identified tau as the protein making up paired helical filaments (Brion et al., 1985). His research helped elucidate different forms of tau and their roles in neuronal plasticity and Alzheimer’s disease (Nunez, 1988; Gache et al., 1992; Georgieff et al., 1993).
Nunez was also an expert on thyroid hormones, writing the section on these compounds for the Encyclopedia of Neuroscience over several editions. His work prompted screening of newborns for thyroid hormone deficiencies and earned him the European Thyroid Association (ETA) Merck-Serono Prize in 1993.
Nunez was born in Tunisia on November 27, 1927, as an Italian citizen. After his retirement from INSERM in 1995, he moved to the United States to work at the National Institutes of Health as a guest researcher.—Madolyn Bowman Rogers
- Brion JP, Passareiro H, Nunez J, Flament-Durand J. Mise en évidence immunologique de la protéine tau au niveau des lésions de dégénérescence neurofibrillaire de la maladie d'Alzheimer. Arch Biol (Bruxelles). 1985;95:229-35.
- Nunez J. Immature and mature variants of MAP2 and tau proteins and neuronal plasticity. Trends Neurosci. 1988 Nov;11(11):477-9. PubMed.
- Gache Y, Guilleminot J, Ricolfi F, Theiss G, Nunez J. A tau-related protein of 130 kDa is present in Alzheimer brain. J Neurochem. 1992 Jun;58(6):2005-10. PubMed.
- Georgieff IS, Liem RK, Couchie D, Mavilia C, Nunez J, Shelanski ML. Expression of high molecular weight tau in the central and peripheral nervous systems. J Cell Sci. 1993 Jul;105 ( Pt 3):729-37. PubMed.
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