Alzheimer’s disease is a spreading epidemic that touches many families. David M. Holtzman, MD, the Andrew B. and Gretchen P. Jones Professor in the School of Medicine, is a leading expert in researching the underlying mechanisms that lead to Alzheimer’s disease in an effort to improve diagnosis and treatment.
“I wish Dr. and Mrs. Jones could spend a day with me to see the tremendous advances in neurology in the past three decades,” says Holtzman. “In the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, we are leading the first therapeutic trials in humans to try to prevent Alzheimer’s disease in this country.”
In addition to seeing patients at the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and the Memory Diagnostic Center, Holtzman leads a research team working with animal models of Alzheimer’s. The group has been instrumental in showing how dangerous amounts of a protein fragment called amyloid beta begin to accumulate in the brain many years before symptoms arise. These basic science investigations have evolved over the years and are beginning to bridge the gap into the clinical arena.
Washington University leads in Alzheimer’s disease research because of faculty like Holtzman, who is head of the Department of Neurology and a member of the Hope Center for Neurological Disorders. He has received numerous honors for his work, including the MetLife Foundation Award; the Potamkin Prize for Medical Research in Pick’s, Alzheimer’s, and Related Diseases; and election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.