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Pitt Researchers Awarded Prestigious Potamkin Prize for Alzheimer’s Research


PITTSBURGH, April 2008 — University of Pittsburgh researchers William E. Klunk, M.D., Ph.D., and Chester A. Mathis, Ph.D., today were awarded the 2008 Potamkin Prize for their work in Alzheimer’s disease research. Drs. Klunk and Mathis received the award during the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting, taking place this week in Chicago. The Potamkin Prize is a memorial award given to researchers who have made outstanding contributions to the study of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Over the years, this award has been given to some of the most recognized scientists in the field and has become known as the “Nobel Prize of Neurology.”

The prize was awarded to Drs. Klunk and Mathis in recognition of their invention and development of the amyloid plaque imaging compound, Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB). This radioactive compound, when coupled with positron emission tomography (PET) imaging, can be injected into the bloodstream to enable researchers to visualize the brains of people with the memory-stealing illness and see the location and distribution of the beta-amyloid plaque deposits associated with Alzheimer’s. These plaques, which are thought to kill brain cells, distinguish Alzheimer’s disease from other dementias.

“Pittsburgh Compound B offers the first definitive way to detect Alzheimer’s disease in living patients and—as soon as it’s cleared for clinical use—will expand early diagnostic and potential treatment options for people with this complex and devastating illness. I applaud Bill and Chet on this well-deserved honor and join with the entire research community here at Pitt in congratulating them,” said Arthur S. Levine, M.D., senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine.

“Bill Klunk and Chet Mathis are two of the best examples of the superb researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center who are fighting this dread disease,” said Steven T. DeKosky, M.D., chair, Department of Neurology, and director of the University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

The $100,000 prize is to be used toward continuing Alzheimer’s research and will be shared evenly among Dr. Klunk, Dr. Mathis and Alzheimer’s researcher Clifford R. Jack Jr., M.D., of the Mayo Clinic.

The University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences include the schools of Medicine, Nursing, Dental Medicine, Pharmacy, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and the Graduate School of Public Health. The schools serve as the academic partner to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Together, their combined mission is to train tomorrow’s health care specialists and biomedical scientists, engage in groundbreaking research that will advance understanding of the causes and treatments of disease and participate in the delivery of outstanding patient care. Since 1997, Pitt and its affiliated university faculty have ranked among the top 10 educational institutions in grant support from the National Institutes of Health.


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