Approximately 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. That number is estimated to increase ten-fold by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. As America’s population ages, Alzheimer’s disease is poised to become a major health crisis with serious implications for families, our health care system and the economy.
In hopes of preventing this, MetLife Foundation has recognized Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Professor Roberto Malinow, M.D., Ph.D., for his efforts and contributions to understanding Alzheimer’s disease by advancing our knowledge of how cells in the brain communicate and how diseases of cognition disrupt that communication.
“The scientists we honor today are on the frontlines of battling Alzheimer’s,” said Sibyl Jacobson, president and CEO, MetLife Foundation. “Their persistence and imaginative research are helping to unlock the complexities of this disease, bringing us that much closer to a prevention or cure.”
Dr. Malinow and his colleagues have focused their research on how activity in brain cells controls the strength of communication at the synapses between the cells. This process, called synaptic plasticity, is thought to underlie the formation and storage of memories. Dr. Malinow’s research has led to a greater understanding of how synapses function, as well as the role of amyloid beta peptides (viewed as central to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease) in normal and disease cells.
Dr. Malinow received a B.A. in mathematics from Reed College, an M.D. from the NYU School of Medicine in 1984 and a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in 1986. He conducted postdoctoral research at Yale University School of Medicine under the guidance of Dr. Richard Tsein, and joined Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 1993, where he is now the Ale Davis and Maxine Harrison Professor of Neuroscience.
MetLife Foundation also recognized Thomas Südhof, M.D., director of the Center for Basic Neuroscience at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Since 1986, MetLife Foundation has awarded $9 million in grants through the Awards for Medical Research program. Two of the awardees have gone on to win Nobel Prizes. MetLife Foundation, established in 1976 by MetLife, supports health, education, civic and cultural programs throughout the United States. For more information, visit www.metlife.org.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is a private, non-profit basic research institution. Under the leadership of Dr. Bruce Stillman, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society (London), 308 scientists at the Laboratory conduct groundbreaking research in cancer, neurobiology, plant genetics, and bioinformatics. For more information, visit www.cshl.edu.