NYC Healthcare News



UCSF professor receives National Medal of Science

December 01, 2015

"The work of Dr. Prusiner has led to more knowledge about prion diseases than any other form of neurodegeneration," said Jeffrey Bluestone, PhD, UCSF executive vice chancellor and provost. "But, as importantly, these discoveries have forged a new understanding of neurodegenerative disease processes that will lead to new treatments for devastating diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's."

The awarding of the National Medal of Science "is a fitting recognition of Dr. Prusiner's visionary work, and a great honor for UCSF," said Sam Hawgood, MBBS, dean of the School of Medicine and vice chancellor of medical affairs. "He exemplifies UCSF's commitment to excel in biomedical research and bring discoveries to patients."

Advancing Neurosciences Research Today, at age 68, Prusiner is a key force behind UCSF's development of a neuroscience building that will gather under one roof clinicians, clinician-researchers and basic scientists to accelerate advances against such disorders as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke, migraine, epilepsy, autism, mental retardation and cerebral palsy. The building is a milestone in the evolution of UCSF's world-class neuroscience enterprise.

"This culminates a 10-year dream," said Prusiner. "This building will bring together some of the best scientists in the world to work on these common diseases of the brain. The opportunity for major progress is tremendous."

The research space provided by the neuroscience building and the space in the adjacent Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Hall neuroscience building at UCSF Mission Bay will together constitute "more than 400,000 square feet dedicated to studying these extremely complex, challenging diseases," Prusiner said. "UCSF Mission Bay will be one of the biggest neuroscience complexes in the world."

The need for such intensive focus is crucial, he said. "The last three decades have seen unprecedented advances in our understanding of the molecular, genetic and cellular basis of neurodegenerative diseases. We have a fundamental understanding of the proteins underlying such devastating illnesses as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, frontotemporal dementias, ALS and prion diseases, and are moving in on the development of targeted drug therapies.

"But we have strides yet to make. No effective treatments have been introduced for any neurodegenerative disease since L-dopa was introduced for Parkinson's disease in 1967. And even that drug, while effective in treating symptoms until the brain becomes resistant, does not stop the progression of the underlying neurodegeneration."

Source: University of California -- San Francisco