Two Leading Researchers in Alzheimer’s Disease Receive 2015 MetLife Foundation Awards for Medical Research

WASHINGTON--()--MetLife Foundation today announced the two recipients of the 2015 MetLife Foundation Awards for Medical Research:

  • Randall Bateman, M.D., Charles F. and Joanne Knight Distinguished Professor of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri.
  • Christian Haass, Ph.D., Professor of Biochemistry, Biomedical Center, Ludwig Maximilians University München, and German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, in Munich, Germany.
  • The winners were first announced during a morning plenary session at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Washington DC and later celebrated at a scientific briefing and awards ceremony to be held on Monday, July 20th from 6-8pm at the Marriott Marquis Hotel, Marquis Ballroom - Salons 9 & 10, 901 W. Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington DC, 20001. Organized by the American Federation for Aging Research, the evening awards ceremony included a researching briefing featuring each awardee as well as special remarks by Dr. Marie Bernard, Deputy Director of the National Institute on Aging.
  • Media are invited to attend the Marriott Marquis ceremony. Drs Bateman and Haass will be available for interviews.

“MetLife Foundation is proud to present these major awards to Dr. Bateman and Dr. Haass for their exceptional scientific research contributions, which help bring us closer to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease,” said A. Dennis White, President and Chief Executive Officer, MetLife Foundation. “Their outstanding contributions, recognized around the world, have helped us better understand this devastating illness, and both awardees have laid the groundwork leading to effective treatments.”

According to recent estimates, without the development of treatments that either delay the onset or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, by 2050 as many as 200 million people worldwide will be living with the disease.

“Even modest advances in preventing or delaying Alzheimer’s disease, championed by recipients of the MetLife Foundation Awards for Medical Research, will have a huge global public health impact,” White shared.

About the Awardees:

As a research scientist and practicing physician, Dr. Randall Bateman has led the development of a technique known as stable isotope-linked kinetics, or SILK, that for the first time made it possible to measure central nervous system proteins in living people. One of his most notable findings was that the removal of amyloid beta protein is impaired in Alzheimer’s patients. The SILK measuring technique is now used extensively by pharmaceutical companies to evaluate the effects of drugs targeted at controlling amyloid beta production or removal. Dr. Bateman’s lab is now developing a SILK method for measuring and studying the pathology of the other characteristic of Alzheimer’s--the abnormal tau protein that destroys the microtubular structure of brain cells.

Concurrent with his lab work, Dr. Bateman is the director and principal investigator of the Dominant Inherited Alzheimer’s Network Trial Unit, or DIAN-TU. This is a global partnership engaged in the first Alzheimer’s prevention trial using anti-amyloid drugs in people who are not exhibiting symptoms but have a high genetic risk of developing the disease. The trial is unique in that it will test multiple drugs rather than the usual practice of testing a single drug at a time.

Dr. Christian Haass was among the first to show that the amyloid-beta peptide was produced as part of normal, healthy human biology. This finding was a major breakthrough for the entire field of Alzheimer’s disease research. Most recently, he has demonstrated how improper encoding of a protein called TREM2 that is critical to the clearance of amyloid beta may lead to an increase in the amount of misfolded amyloid in the body.

Dr. Haass was also the first to demonstrate that beta-secretase, one of the enzymes implicated in the pathology of Alzheimer’s, is critical to the proper regulation of the electrical insulation of brain cells. His work warned that inhibiting beta-secretase’s work could disrupt the development of healthy neurons. Dr. Haass’s ever-deepening understanding of the molecular biology of Alzheimer’s disease is critical to ensuring that treatments currently in trials and new ones being developed are both effective and safe.

For additional background on the award recipients, visit: http://www.afar.org/research/MLF-awards

About the MetLife Foundation for Medical Research Awards:

Now in their 29th year, the awards provide outstanding researchers with an opportunity to freely pursue new ideas. At the heart of the program is a belief in research as the road to understanding and ultimately treating this devastating disease. This year, $400,000 in awards has been given. The major award carries a $150,000 institutional grant and a personal prize of $50,000. MetLife Foundation established the awards in 1986 to recognize and reward scientists demonstrating significant contributions to the understanding of Alzheimer’s disease.

The MetLife Foundation Awards for Medical Research are managed by the American Federation for Aging Research. Founded in 1981, AFAR has championed the cause and supported the funding of science in healthier aging and age-related medicine.

The awardees are selected by an expert advisory committee, led by chair David. M. Holtzman, M.D., the Andrew B. and Gretchen P. Jones Professor and chairman, Department of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis Missouri and also a previous recipient of the MetLife Foundation Award.

“These two individuals have performed groundbreaking work, and the awards will help further their pioneering research,” noted Dr. Holtzman. “Dr. Bateman and Dr. Haass join a roster of past winners whose work has gone onto receive Noble prizes. MetLife is proud and humbled that our awards can be a springboard to greater recognition and innovation in the field.”

About MetLife Foundation:

MetLife Foundation was established in 1976 by MetLife to carry on its long tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. For over 25 years, MetLife and MetLife Foundation have invested more than $32 million for Alzheimer's research and public information programs, including over $17 million through the Awards for Medical Research in Alzheimer’s disease program. The Foundation has also supported a number of major initiatives, including the PBS documentary The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer’s; short pocket films on Alzheimer's narrated by David Hyde-Pierce; an educational initiative with the National Institute on Aging’s Alzheimer’s Disease Centers; the film Alzheimer’s Disease: Facing the Facts; and initiatives that include caregiving videos, Alzheimer's toolkits and resources for the Hispanic community.

About AFAR:

Founded in 1982, AFAR has championed the cause and supported the funding of science in healthier aging and age-related medicine. Cognizant of the shortage of physicians and researchers dedicated to the bioscience of aging, AFAR pursues grants from foundations, corporations and individuals to fund important research into age-related health and diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, dementia, and other illnesses. AFAR funds physicians and scientists probing the fundamental mechanisms of aging, as well as specific diseases associated with aging populations. For more information visit AFAR’s Web site at www.afar.org.

Contacts

American Federation for Aging Research
Fred Yaeger, 914-525-9198
or
John Chaich, 718-809-7238

Release Summary

MetLife Foundation announces the two recipients of the 2015 MetLife Foundation Awards for Medical Research- Randall Bateman, M.D. and Christian Haass, Ph.D.

Contacts

American Federation for Aging Research
Fred Yaeger, 914-525-9198
or
John Chaich, 718-809-7238