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Alzheimer's researcher awarded new EUREKA grant

Medical School neuroscience researcher Karen Hsiao Ashe, M.D., Ph.D., is among the first investigators to receive a grant through the National Institutes of Health’s EUREKA program.

Grants distributed through EUREKA—which stands for Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration—are awarded to scientists who are testing novel and unconventional hypotheses or working to overcome major methodological or technical challenges. This is the first time these grants have been awarded.

Ashe, whose lab has been responsible for multiple breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s disease research in the past dozen years, was one of 38 investigators honored with an award.

She will receive $200,000 per year for four years to investigate the molecules that are responsible for memory loss in a group of degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, that are caused by abnormalities in a protein called “tau.” This protein has been found to cause memory problems even before brain cells begin to die.

“This award will enable me to pursue this… potentially high-impact project,” Ashe says. “Defining the molecular basis of memory disturbance has eluded the most prominent and productive scientists in the field of Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, there is still a certain amount of skepticism that people can have significant memory deterioration without loss of neurons.”

Understanding the molecular mechanisms of memory loss offers hope for preventing or reversing it, she adds.

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