To expand the understanding and explanation of Alzheimer's disease, Austin-based business leader James Truchard, retired president and CEO of National Instruments, has given a $5 million gift to the UTSA College of Sciences to establish the Oskar Fischer Project. The initiative will engage the world's brightest minds in a comprehensive literature review with the goal of synthesizing that information into one simple explanation for the cause of Alzheimer's disease. The challenge was announced today during the Society for Neuroscience's annual meeting, an international gathering of nearly 30,000 scientists taking place through Nov. 7 in San Diego.
The Oskar Fischer Prizes will include a grand prize of $2 million, two second place prizes of $500,000 each and four third place prizes of $250,000 each. Collectively, the monetary awards are the world's largest prizes of their kind.
Through personal research, Truchard, 75, was introduced to the work of Oskar Fischer (1876-1942), a Jewish pioneer in neuroscience who studied dementia at the same time as Alois Alzheimer. In 1900, Fischer began working at Charles University's German University, based in Prague. His research led to the identification of senile plaques (then called neuritic plaques), the signature lesions of Alzheimer's disease.
Fischer hypothesized that the plaques were associated with presbyophrenia, then characterized as a form of senile dementia marked by memory loss, memory distortions and disorientation. He published on 12 patients with plaques and tangles, protein strands that appear during Alzheimer's disease, in 1907, the same year that Alzheimer published on one patient with early onset Alzheimer's.
Through Jim Truchard's support, the Oskar Fischer Project will accelerate our shared mission of unraveling the mysteries of neurodegeneration through engagement with the smartest thinkers around the world
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