Robert Vassar, Michael Wolfe, and Berislav Zlokovic will receive the 2009 Potamkin Prize for Research in Pick’s, Alzheimer’s, and Related Diseases. The scientists will share the $100,000 award to be presented next Wednesday at the 61st Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, which takes place 25 April to 2 May in Seattle.

This year’s Potamkin awardees have also won the three most recent MetLife Awards—Zlokovic in 2007, Vassar in 2008, and Wolfe this year.

Vassar, of Northwestern University in Chicago, is well known in the AD field for his work unraveling mechanisms behind the amyloid precursor protein (APP)-cleaving enzyme BACE1, and its connections with AD (see, e.g., O’Connor et al., 2008 and ARF related news story; Ma et al., 2007 and ARF related news story). Vassar served on the ARF Scientific Advisory Board in 2005 and has contributed generously to the Alzforum community over the years.

Wolfe, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, is widely credited for advancing the field’s understanding of the other APP-clipping enzyme, γ-secretase (see, e.g., Mowrer and Wolfe, 2008 and ARF related news story; Kukar et al., 2008 and ARF related news story; Sato et al., 2007 and ARF related news story). Wolfe has offered comments for more than a dozen studies covered on Alzforum and participated in our most recent Webinar Discussion.

Research led by Zlokovic, University of Rochester Medical Center, New York, has brought greater insight into mechanisms of Aβ clearance, especially at the intersection between the vascular system and neurodegenerative disease (see, e.g., Bell et al., 2009 and ARF related news story; Sagare et al., 2007 and ARF related news story; Zhong et al., 2008 and ARF related news story). In 2003, Zlokovic led an ARF live discussion based in part on his group’s data showing that RAGE (receptor for advanced glycation end products) in brain endothelium mediates antibody transport across the blood-brain barrier (Deane et al., 2003).

Hearty congratulations to this year’s awardees!—Esther Landhuis.


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  3. Alternative Medicine? Splicing of BACE RNA Can Throttle Aβ Production
  4. Surprise! Some γ-Secretase Modulators Work by Targeting APP
  5. Four Countries, Four Proteins, One Answer—γ-Secretase a Tetramer
  6. Paper Alert—Transcription Factors Regulate Aβ Clearance
  7. Enhancing Peripheral Sink Scours Brain of Amyloid
  8. Research Brief: SOD1 Mutants Cause Early Vascular Changes

Webinar Citations

  1. How Does Excess Aβ Leave the Brain, How Does It Get In, And Can We Trap It Outside?

Paper Citations

  1. . Phosphorylation of the translation initiation factor eIF2alpha increases BACE1 levels and promotes amyloidogenesis. Neuron. 2008 Dec 26;60(6):988-1009. PubMed.
  2. . Involvement of beta-site APP cleaving enzyme 1 (BACE1) in amyloid precursor protein-mediated enhancement of memory and activity-dependent synaptic plasticity. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 May 8;104(19):8167-72. PubMed.
  3. . Promotion of BACE1 mRNA alternative splicing reduces amyloid beta-peptide production. J Biol Chem. 2008 Jul 4;283(27):18694-701. PubMed.
  4. . Substrate-targeting gamma-secretase modulators. Nature. 2008 Jun 12;453(7197):925-9. PubMed.
  5. . Active gamma-secretase complexes contain only one of each component. J Biol Chem. 2007 Nov 23;282(47):33985-93. PubMed.
  6. . SRF and myocardin regulate LRP-mediated amyloid-beta clearance in brain vascular cells. Nat Cell Biol. 2009 Feb;11(2):143-53. PubMed.
  7. . Clearance of amyloid-beta by circulating lipoprotein receptors. Nat Med. 2007 Sep;13(9):1029-31. PubMed.
  8. . ALS-causing SOD1 mutants generate vascular changes prior to motor neuron degeneration. Nat Neurosci. 2008 Apr;11(4):420-2. PubMed.
  9. . RAGE mediates amyloid-beta peptide transport across the blood-brain barrier and accumulation in brain. Nat Med. 2003 Jul;9(7):907-13. PubMed.

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