13 June 2007. Bright young stars, listen up: A new source of research funding is on the horizon. Three Alzheimer disease organizations have announced at the second Alzheimer’s Association Prevention Conference in Washington, D.C., that they are jointly creating an award for AD research. The Alzheimer’s Association, the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund in Boston and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute in Las Vegas, Nevada, have each pledged $100,000 toward a grant to be called Tomorrow’s Leaders in Alzheimer’s Disease Research. The sponsors will fund the first award in 2008 and then yearly thereafter. They will make details about the nomination procedure and deadlines available this November.
The funding climate at present is challenging for all AD researchers. Younger ones tend to be particularly hard-pressed because they face an additional hurdle in that most funding agencies require prior data on a grant application before they fund it. A young scientist who starts out, or does not have lines of investigation firmly established in the lab, thus often stands a poor chance of receiving a grant. Some funders specialize in finding young talent or the out-of-the-box idea, and frequently up-and-coming investigators use such funds to get the data that can then secure a larger NIH grant. But these funders are few and far between. The new genius grant addresses this need. The award can be used for any project at the discretion of the winner.
This new prize honors the legacy of two past leaders of AD research. George Glenner (1928–1995) first isolated and identified β amyloid from AD tissue. Leon Thal (1944 to 2007) was a leading figure in conceptualizing AD clinical trials until an airplane accident cut short his life last January. Memories of Thal were everywhere at the conference, from a memorial lecture given by his long-time friend and colleague Robert Terry to references by presenters throughout the sessions.—Gabrielle Strobel.