Three New Members Added to Cure Alzheimer's Fund's Research Consortium

Posted: May 18, 2017

WELLESLEY, Mass., May 18, 2017 -- Cure Alzheimer's Fund has announced three new members to the organization's Research Consortium: Marco Colonna, M.D.Beth Stevens, Ph.D., and Stephen Wong, Ph.D. Dr. Colonna is Professor of Pathology & Immunology and Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. Dr. Beth Stevens is an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School in the FM Kirby Neurobiology Center at Boston Children's Hospital and an institute member of the Broad Institute. Dr. Stephen Wong is the Director of the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Center for Bioinformatics Research and Imaging for Neuroscience (BRAIN), the Chair of Systems Medicine and Bioengineering Department at Houston Methodist Research Institute, Chief Research Information Officer of Houston Methodist and a Professor of Radiology, Neurosciences, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.

"We are so honored to add Marco, Beth, and Stephen to Cure Alzheimer's Fund's Research Consortium. The work they are doing is having a significant impact on our scientific knowledge of this disease," said Tim Armour, President and CEO of Cure Alzheimer's Fund. "The better we understand Alzheimer's, the more likely we are to develop effective treatment and prevention strategies."

Born and educated in Italy, Dr. Marco Colonna and the researchers in his laboratory are interested in innate immunity. His team has discovered triggering receptors expressed on myeloid cells (TREM), cell surface receptors encoded on human chromosome 6 that are differentially expressed on granulocytes, dendritic cells, macrophages and osteoclasts and regulate their functions. Human deficiency in TREM2 causes a progressive, early onset dementia known as Nasu-Hakola disease and recently, a TREM2 polymorphism was implicated as a genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Colonna's laboratory is currently exploring the capacity of TREM2 to promote microglial cell function and how TREM2 allelic variants result in susceptibility to the disease. Dr. Colonna has published over 80 journal last-author studies, and holds editorial appointments in ImmunityJournal of Experimental Medicine, Journal of Clinical Investigation, and Human Immunology.

After receiving her Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Maryland, College Park, and her postdoctoral training at Stanford University, Dr. Beth Stevens established her independent laboratory in the FM Kirby Neurobiology Center at Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School in 2008. She is also a member of the Broad Institute and Stanley Center, where she is currently using a combination of molecular, physiological and high-resolution imaging techniques to dissect the mechanisms by which microglial cells and immune-related molecules regulate synapse function during health and disease. She is investigating the mechanisms that drive synapse loss and dysfunction in Alzheimer's and Huntington's disease, as well as neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism and schizophrenia. She is a recipient of several young investigator awards, including the Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar in Aging, John Merck Scholar (2011), Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), and a MacArthur Award.

Dr. Stephen Wong is a specialist in medical imaging and systems biology and their applications to neurological disease. While on the faculty at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Wong founded the Harvard Center for Neurodegeneration and Repair's Center for Bioinformatics, and the Functional and Molecular Imaging Center, including the creation of the first cyclotron facilities and preclinical optical imaging laboratory, at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Partners Healthcare. His earlier pioneer work at UCSF contributed to the development of enterprise picture archiving and communication systems (PACS), a medical imaging technology that realizes filmless hospitals today. He has dedicated the second part of his career to solving disease problems; applying engineering principles to the identification of new disease treatments. His ability to integrate an extremely diverse skillset and domain knowledge uniquely situates him to combat complex diseases like Alzheimer's. At Houston Methodist, Dr. Wong's work has focused on generation of disruptive technologies that seek to make disease cures faster and more efficient.

"It is exciting to bring researchers from across disciplines into the Research Consortium. Supporting collaboration and the exchange of ideas will allow us to come closer to finding a cure for this disease," said Dr. Rudy Tanzi, Chair of Cure Alzheimer's Fund's Research Consortium. "I am looking forward to continuing work with Marco, Beth, and Stephen, and I know that they will help us move our knowledge – and opportunities for healing – forward."

Cure Alzheimer's Fund is a non-profit dedicated to funding the most promising research to prevent, slow or reverse Alzheimer's disease. Since its founding in 2004, Cure Alzheimer's Fund has contributed over $50 million to research, and its funded initiatives have been responsible for several key breakthroughs – including the groundbreaking "Alzheimer's in a Dish" study. Cure Alzheimer's Fund has received a score of 100 percent regarding its overall financial health from Charity Navigator and a four star rating from the organization for five consecutive years. With 100 percent of funds raised going directly to research, Cure Alzheimer's has been able to support some of the best scientific minds in the field of Alzheimer's research.

Keywords: