Alzheimer’s Charity Finds Success in Stuart, FL. A recent TC Palm article features the breakthrough work of the Alzheimer’s Genome Project and describes the origin of Cure Alzheimer’s Fund.
By BY JAN LINDSEY Correspondent
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
STUART — Philanthropist Phyllis Rappaport, a Stuart resident, knows how to pick ’em. The Rappaports were one of four families to found the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund in 2004, primarily to back the work of Rudy Tanzi, a scientist affiliated with Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital. This year, Tanzi identified 40 human genes related to Alzheimer’s and made Time magazine’s list of the Top 10 Medical Breakthroughs of 2008.
Rappaport said she met Tanzi after she had been named to the President’s Council at Massachusetts General because of her work as chairwoman of the Jerome Lyle Rappaport Charitable Foundation, a private organization that bears her husband’s name.
“When I met Rudy, I couldn’t sleep,” she said. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is a young man who is going to change the world.'”
Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, a public nonprofit, has raised almost $10 million, she said, and much of the money went to Tanzi for his study of 400 families with members who suffer from Alzheimer’s. The rest went to other researchers working on separate projects.
The results of Tanzi’s work surprised even him.
“He was hoping he would find a dozen or two (genes). He couldn’t believe it,” Rappaport said. “It’s going to open up just whole new avenues of study.” As research costs go, she said, Tanzi’s project was a “very economical piece of science — to get such results.”
Tanzi will receive more money in 2009 so he can apply recently developed technologies to his results, she said. Still, a bulk of his work is done and the search is about to begin for scientists who can take his work to the next level — producing drugs to combat the disease.
The next phase will be more expensive, Rappaport said. Tanzi’s work was supported by donations from relatives and friends of the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund’s four founding families. Now, the fund is working to identify new donors and develop new sources of cash.
“There is very, very exciting work to be done,” she said.