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Rusty Gage receives Allen Distinguished Investigator Award to reveal biology of Alzheimer's disease

Rusty Gage

In July, Rusty Gage, professor in the Laboratory of Genetics, was named one of five recipients of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation's Allen Distinguished Investigator (ADI) program and will be awarded $1.5 million to conduct his research. All five of the selected researchers have projects aimed at uncovering the elusive biological foundations of Alzheimer's disease. The projects are funded at a total of $7 million over three years.

Gage, who holds the Vi and John Adler Chair for Research on Age-Related Neurodegenerative Disease, studies the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms of neurogenesis and neurodegeneration to develop avenues to repair damaged or aging brains, such as in Alzheimer's. The goal of Gage's research effort with this award is to separate out the role of aging from the role of disease in Alzheimer's progression. Gage will use cutting-edge cell culture methods capable of developing patient-specific neurons, as well as high-throughput RNA sequencing and bioinformatics analysis, to compare changes in gene expression due to age with changes specific to Alzheimer's disease. Since both aging and disease impact neuron function, synapses and network function, this work will provide valuable insights into the role of normal aging in disease progression.

"We cannot hope to fight Alzheimer's until we understand the basic biology that underlies the onset and progression of disease," says Tom Skalak, executive director for Science and Technology for the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. "The Allen Distinguished Investigator projects will provide crucial fresh direction in Alzheimer's disease research, in part because they include team member perspectives both from within and outside the Alzheimer's field. We know that these kinds of creative, cutting-edge projects will produce new diagnostics, treatments or even cures for this devastating disease."