Estela Area-Gómez, a researcher at the Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas Margarita Salas where she leads a group focused on The role of mitochondria-associated ER membranes (MAM) in cellular homeostasis, has been awarded the Oskar Fischer Prize in the Gold category for her innovative hypothesis on Alzheimer’s disease. The Oskar Fischer Prize is an international competition to expand society’s understanding of the causes of Alzheimer’s disease and recipients of the Gold category will receive $500,000.
The Oskar Fischer Prize was launched in December 2019 and received submissions from around the world which were reviewed by an interdisciplinary committee of advisors. Ten individuals were selected to receive gold, silver and bronze prizes for their papers, with finalists receiving $500,000, $400,000, and $300,000, respectively. Winners were announced on June 8, 2022.
Dr. Estela Area-Gómez has spent the last 15 years investigating the role of the proteins presenilin-1 and -2 in the regulation of the physical and functional interactions between mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum (ER), which have revealed a novel mechanism underlying neuronal injury in Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerations.
The prize recognizes the aims of her laboratory to understand the role of mitochondria-associated ER membranes (MAM) in the overall lipid homeostasis in neurons, understand whether perturbations in MAM and lipid signaling underlie synaptic dysfunction and/or neuronal death in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and identify lipid biomarkers that either segregate with or predict clinical outcome in AD.
According to the World Alzheimer Report 2021 by Alzheimer’s Disease International, an estimated 55 million people worldwide are living with dementia. That population is expected to increase to 78 million by 2030. To expand the understanding and explanation of Alzheimer’s disease, United States businessman James Truchard gave a $5 million USD gift to The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) College of Sciences to establish the Oskar Fischer Prize, named after a Jewish pioneer in neuroscience who studied dementia more than 112 years ago.
Oskar Fischer Prize website: link.
UTSA Press Release: link.