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expert reaction to Brain Prize 2018

Profs John Hardy, Bart De Strooper, Michel Goedert and Christian Haass, have been awarded the world’s most valuable prize for brain research.

A briefing accompanied this roundup.


Prof Tara Spires-Jones, UK Dementia Research Institute Programme Lead and Deputy Director of the Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences, University of Edinburgh, said:

“It is fantastic news that four top Alzheimer’s disease researchers have won the Brain Prize this year.  Alzheimer’s and other dementias affect 50 million people around the world, and none of the currently available medications stop or slow disease progression.  The Brain Prize winners have contributed greatly to our understanding of the disease and to the progress towards effective treatments.  Because of their discoveries of how the toxic aggregates called plaques and tangles form in the brain, there are promising clinical trials going on all over the world.  As well as their scientific contributions, Profs Hardy, de Strooper, Goedert, and Haass have contributed to the public understanding of dementias, helping change the conversation from an attitude that dementia was an inevitable part of ageing to the new more hopeful tone that this is a disease that we can defeat through scientific advancement.”


Dr Mark Dallas, Lecturer in Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, University of Reading, said:

“This is a fully deserved prize in light of the pioneering work all four scientists have undertaken in tackling Alzheimer’s disease.  These scientist have collectively changed, and continue to shape the landscape of dementia research.”


Prof Robert Howard, Professor of Old Age Psychiatry, UCL, said:

“These researchers have each made their own original and pivotal contributions to our understanding of the mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease over the last three decades and it is fantastic to see this recognised.  Perhaps most importantly, their individual discoveries have interlinked and converged as we have closed in on dementia and it’s great to see the individual scientists linked by this prestigious prize too.  Of course, the prize they really deserve would be treatments that can slow or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, that will be based upon their pivotal discoveries.  But they may have to wait a few more years for this one.”


Dr Giovanna Lalli, from Wellcome’s Neuroscience and Mental Health team, said:

“Understanding neurodegeneration is a key scientific challenge of our time.  While there is still much we don’t know about Alzheimer’s and related dementias, these four researchers have each played a crucial role in advancing our understanding of these devastating diseases.

“We are delighted to congratulate Professor John Hardy as one of the winners of the 2018 Brain Prize.  Professor Hardy is a committed pioneer and true leader in neurodegenerative research.  His important genetic discoveries and close work with both scientists and doctors working with dementia patients is identifying novel targets and testing potential new treatments for this increasing global health problem.”


Prof Christopher Shaw, Professor of Neurology and Neurogenetics, and Head of the Department of Basic and Clinical Neuroscience, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, said:

“Lundbeck has chosen wisely in recognising these four neuroscience pioneers, each of whom have made an exceptional contribution to the field.  If Alzheimer’s is Everest then they have taken us to Base Camp.  More importantly, they have inspired and enabled the next generation of brain explorers to turn their discoveries into effective treatments that will take us to the summit.”


Dr Sarah Mizielinska, UK Dementia Research Institute (UKDRI) Research Fellow, and Lecturer in Dementia & Neurodegenerative Disorders, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, said:

“Bart’s contribution and commitment to Alzheimer’s disease research easily merits this exceptional research prize.  We are very lucky to have him as the director of the UK Dementia Research Institute!”


Dr David Reynolds, Chief Scientific Officer at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“Our congratulations go to all four of these outstanding scientists whose vital contributions have transformed our understanding of the complex causes of Alzheimer’s disease.  The fact that three of these researchers work in the UK reflects the country’s position as a global leader in dementia research and we are proud that Alzheimer’s Research UK has been able to play a role in supporting their important work.

“Their achievements show how much progress has been made in dementia research in recent decades, and the importance of mechanistic research in shaping the way we study and treat diseases like Alzheimer’s.  It is through the dedication and hard work of researchers that we will continue to drive breakthroughs that pave the way for new treatments and provide hope to people with dementia and their families.  We look forward to working with these leading scientists in the years to come as they continue to push back the frontiers of our knowledge and take up the biggest challenges in dementia research.”


Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Society, said:

“As a founder of the UK Dementia Research Institute headed up by Professor De Strooper, and having helped fund Professor Hardy’s early gene discovery work, Alzheimer’s Society is delighted that these researchers have been honoured with the prestigious Brain Prize.

“Since Professor Hardy’s initial genetic discovery, together these researchers have mapped out the key biological pathways in Alzheimer’s disease.  Much of the ongoing drug discovery research builds on their pioneering work, looking for ways to stop the build-up of amyloid plaques and the spread of tau tangles, to one day stop Alzheimer’s in its tracks.

“UK scientists being recognised as world leaders in dementia research is a proud achievement – and more importantly, brings us closer to new treatments and cures for the 850,000 people living with dementia.”



Declared interests

Dr Mark Dallas: “Dr Dallas receives grant funding from Alzheimer’s Research UK and the Alzheimer’s Association.”

Dr Giovanna Lalli: “Wellcome part-fund John Hardy’s work.”

Dr David Reynolds: “John Hardy is Patron of Alzheimer’s Research UK.  Alzheimer’s Research UK has supported the work of Prof Hardy, Prof de Strooper and Prof Goedert.”

Jeremy Hughes: “The Society contributed funding to Prof Hardy’s initial work and is a founding funder of the DRI where Prof de Strooper is director.”


None others received.

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