Missouri researcher wins $100,000 ‘Nobel Prize’ for Alzheimer’s research

Dr. Randall Bateman, a researcher at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is the winner of the 2019 Potamkin Prize for Research in Pick’s, Alzheimer’s and Related Diseases.

Bateman is receiving the award in part for his work toward developing a easy and affordable blood test for Alzheimer’s disease.

The Potamkin award is sometimes referred to as the Nobel Prize of Alzheimer’s research. The award recognizes international researchers who have made major contributions to the understanding of the causes of Pick’s, Alzheimer’s and related dementias, and who have advanced efforts to prevent, treat and cure such diseases.

Dr. Randall Bateman

Bateman will be presented the award May 6 at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in Philadelphia.

Bateman, the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Distinguished Professor of Neurology at Washington University, has made significant contributions to understanding Alzheimer’s, including a new way to determine how effectively amyloid beta is cleared from the brain. Amyloid beta is a protein that can build up as plaques in the brain, leading to dementia.

Bateman’s research found the process of clearing amyloid protein from the brain is impaired in people with Alzheimer’s. He is also studying people with an inherited form of Alzheimer’s and has found a link between brain lesions and the development of Alzheimer’s symptoms 15-20 years later.

He is also leading studies of people with an inherited form of the disease and has shown a relationship between brain lesion development and symptom development 15 to 20 years later.

Bateman has developed a blood test that can detect Alzheimer’s in its early stages by measuring levels of amyloid beta. He said the test has been able to detect amyloid protein up to 20 years before a person develops symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

The blood test is still in the research stage but would be more affordable and easier to administer than current methods of detecting amyloid beta.

“A simple blood test could someday enable testing for Alzheimer’s disease for the world’s population,” said Bateman. “When effective treatments and preventions are developed, it will have enormous impacts on the lives of families, medical systems and society as a whole.”

The Potamkin Prize is funded in large part by contributions of the Potamkin family of New York, Philadelphia and Miami. The family has been single largest individual donor to the American Academy of Neurology since 1988, donating more than $2 million to fund the Potamkin Prize.

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