Over the next 40 years, according to Dr. Gregory Petsko, "There will be an epidemic of neurologic diseases on an epic scale." By the year 2050, the U.S. population will include 32 million people over the age of 80; about half of those will have Alzheimer's disease, and another three million will have Parkinson's. Understandably, the time for more research, treatment, and prevention is now.
Dr. Gregory Petsko
Dr. Gregory Petsko graduated Summa cum Laude from Princeton University in 1970 and received his D. Phil. as a Rhodes Scholar from Oxford University in Molecular Biophysics in 1973. He was Professor of Chemistry at MIT from 1978 to 1990, when he moved to Brandeis University, where from 1994 to 2008 he served as Director of the Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center and from 1996 to 2012 was Gyula and Katica Tauber Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry. His research interests include protein structure and function and the development of methods to treat age-related neurodegenerative diseases, including ALS (Lou Gehrig’s), Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s Diseases. Over the next 40 years, according to Dr. Petsko, “There will be an epidemic of neurologic diseases on an epic scale.” By the year 2050, the U.S. population will include 32 million people over the age of 80; about half of those will have Alzheimer’s disease, and another three million will have Parkinson’s. Understandably, the time for more research, treatment, and prevention is now.
Degenerative brain disorder. It occurs in middle to late adult life, destroying neurons and connections in the cerebral cortex and resulting in significant loss of brain mass. The most common form of dementia, Alzheimer disease progresses from short-term memory impairment to further memory loss; deterioration of language, perceptual, and motor skills; mood instability; and, in advanced stages, unresponsiveness, with loss of mobility and control of body functions; death typically ensues in 510 years. Originally described in 1906 by the German neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer (18641915) with reference to a 55-year-old person and regarded as a presenile dementia, Alzheimer disease is now recognized as accounting for much of the senile dementia once thought normal with aging. The 10% of cases that begin before age 60 result from an inherited mutation. Neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain on autopsy are the primary features used for diagnosis. No cure has been found. Most treatment targets the depression, behavioral problems, and sleeplessness that often accompany the disease.