Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent form of dementia in the Western world. Due to its growing significance in a graying society, some people are calling it the disease of the century. Bart De Strooper (VIB, K.U.Leuven) has been playing a prominent role in researching the processes that underlie this degenerative disease. He has received widespread recognition for his work, both nationally and internationally − and today he receives the MetLife Foundation’s USD 200,000 Alzheimer Prize. This prestigious prize is awarded to emphasize the importance of fundamental research on Alzheimer’s disease and highlights the significance of De Strooper’s research in the quest for a cure.
Some 24 million people worldwide suffer from dementia, and about half of these people have Alzheimer’s disease. The growing number of older people is raising the incidence of this disease, and thus scientists predict that, by 2050, there will be some 70 million cases of dementia. In part because we’re living longer, but also because, within the next 25 years, the post-World War II ‘baby boomer’ generation will become older than 70 or 80 years of age. Therefore, it is vital that we continue the fight against this ‘disease of the century’.
For years now, Bart De Strooper has been conducting pioneering research on Alzheimer’s disease. He has discovered important mechanisms that lead to this disorder and has uncovered the central role that presenilin plays in the onset of the disease. This finding was the impetus for the global search for remedies. Since then, Bart De Strooper and his research team have continued to unravel the disease processes even further in the ongoing quest for new therapies.
The MetLife Foundation Prize
Since 1986, MetLife Foundation has awarded major prizes to scientists who have made significant contributions to a better understanding of Alzheimer’s disease. This award program is based on a very strong belief in the importance of fundamental research and the freedom of scientists to pursue their ideas. Along with Robert J. Vassar (Northwestern University, Chicago) and Philip C. Wong (the John Hopkins University School of Medicine), Bart De Strooper is receiving the MetLife Foundation Prize 2008. Each of them will receive USD 200,000.
Sibyl Jacobson, President of MetLife Foundation:
‘These awards are an investment in the future. Scientists represent our best hope for one day finding the causes and treatments for Alzheimer’s. We thank the awardees for their important contributions to the understanding of Alzheimer’s and commend their continued dedication to scientific research.’
Bart De Strooper is delighted with the honor:
‘All the great names in Alzheimer research − scientists I’ve always looked up to − are on the MetLife Award list. I am very pleased and proud that my contribution to curing this disease is judged to be at that level, and this assessment has been made by my colleagues in the field itself.’