Award for Important Contributions -- MEDICA - World Forum for Medicine

LaFerla, a professor of neurobiology and behaviour and co-director of the Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia, will receive a $100,000 grant to be used to further his research. He was recognized by the MetLife Foundation at an awards luncheon in Washington, D.C.

“I am honoured to receive this award and thankful to MetLife Foundation for supporting basic research in this important field,” LaFerla said. “Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating neurological disorder that affects millions of people and has a significant impact on our economy. We need to invest more in basic research so that we have the tools to understand and ultimately treat this disease.”

LaFerla is one of two “Promising Work” winners of the award this year, a distinction he shares with Christian Haass of Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany. Dr. Karen Hsiao Ashe of the University of Minnesota Medical School and Minneapolis VA Center also received the award for her major work in Alzheimer’s disease.

In recent years, LaFerla has been at the forefront of Alzheimer’s research and has made a number of significant strides in understanding the molecular development of the disease. He and other members of his UCI research team were the first to create a genetically altered mouse that allowed for the study of the two signature lesions of Alzheimer’s disease – plaques and tangles.

His work determined that chronic nicotine exposure worsens some Alzheimer-related brain abnormalities, contradicting the common belief that nicotine can actually be used to treat the disease. He also was principle investigator of a study that identified the protein beta amyloid and its buildup within neurons as the trigger that marks the onset of memory decline in Alzheimer’s.; Source: University of California, Irvine