Pioneer grant awarded


The largest grant ever awarded from the Alzheimer's Association, and one of the largest grants in the disease's field - $1 million - went to a husband-and-wife team of scientists from Penn's School of Medicine, the Alzheimer's Association announced Oct. 15.

John Q. Trojanowski, M.D., Ph.D., and Virginia M.-Y. Lee, Ph.D., study neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, for which both have received numerous awards.

Their funded project is titled "Alpha-Synuclein, NAC and the Diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease." Its goal will be the development of new tests for an early diagnosis for the disease.

"It has become necessary for scientists to engage multidisciplinary research teams, launch long-term studies and obtain more advanced laboratory and computer equipment," said Alzheimer's Association President Edward Truschke. "Sophisticated research costs more and takes longer."

This $1 million grant - known as the Pioneer Award - will provide funding for a period up to five years. It was developed through the association's Ronald & Nancy Reagan Research Institute and designed to recognize scientists who have made "important contributions to our knowledge of Alzheimer's disease - particularly those who have done excellent work over a sustained period of time," Truschke added.

"The name of the award is appropriate, because [Trojanowski and Lee] are truly pioneers in the field," said William N. Kelley, M.D., CEO of Penn's Health System and dean of the School of Medicine. "Through [their efforts], we are getting closer to understanding and conquering this devastating disease."

Trojanowski served as chair of the Reagan Institute's working group on diagnostic criteria for the neurological assessment of Alzheimer's. Lee received a 1991 Zenith Award from the association.

Both scientists are members of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee of the association's Southeastern Pennsylvania chapter.

"Dr. Lee and I are greatly honored to receive the Alzheimer's Association's Pioneer Award," Trojanowski said. "Alzheimer's is a debilitating disease which, when it strikes its victims, robs them of the very core of their being. Dr. Lee and I are committed to continuing our research in the hopes of realizing a cure in the near future."

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Originally published on October 29, 1998