UCSD's Dr. Leon Thal to receive Potamkin Prize, one of neurosciences' highest honors

The Potamkin Prize, one of the nation's highest honors in neurosciences, will be awarded this year to Leon Thal, M.D., University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine and Roger Nitsch, M.D., Neuro Science Center, Zurich, Switzerland. The two will share the $100,000 prize awarded at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology April 27, 2004 in San Francisco.

"The Potamkin Prize has come to symbolize internationally the premier neuroscience prize for outstanding excellence in clinical or basic research on Alzheimer's disease and the related dementias," said Roger N. Rosenberg, M.D., former president of the American Academy of Neurology and chair of the Potamkin Prize Committee from 1988 to 1999. He added that it is considered by many to be the Nobel Prize in the field of Alzheimer's research.

Thal was selected in recognition of his "outstanding achievements in research of Alzheimer's and related neurodegenerative diseases," according to the American Academy of Neurology.

Chair of the UCSD Department of Neurosciences, Thal directs the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at UCSD and leads a national consortium of more than 80 centers called the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study, funded with a grant from the National Institute on Aging to test promising drugs for Alzheimer's disease.

One of the world's leading investigators in the development of new therapies for Alzheimer's, Thal is one of only a handful of scientists whose efforts have significantly contributed to the understanding of the cause, prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's disease. With his entire career devoted to the study of aging and dementia, he began aggressively pursuing the cholinergic hypothesis of Alzheimer's disease in the 1970s. After investigations in the laboratory using rat and other models, he translated these studies to humans and subsequently performed clinical trials using choline, lecithin and other precursors of acetylc

Contact: Sue Pondrom
University of California - San Diego

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