Prevention, intervention, big data and neuroscience: can we bring all this together?
Merete Nordentoft, Denmark
Merete Nordentoft is Professor in Psychiatry, University of Copenhagen. She played a leading role in developing and implementing early intervention services in Denmark. An expert in epidemiology, suicidal behaviour, psychopathology and early intervention in psychosis, she has led the process from research to implementation of early intervention services all over Denmark. Professor Nordentoft has worked with suicide prevention at a national level since 1997 and together with a group of epidemiologists from Nordic countries, she has demonstrated that life expectancy for people with schizophrenia is 15 to 20 years shorter than in the general population. She is one of the six principal investigators in iPSYCH, the Lundbeck Foundation Initiative for Integrated Psychiatric Research.
Merete Nordentoft initiated the Danish High Risk and Resilience Study VIA 7 - a representative cohort study of 522 7-year-old children with 0, 1, or 2 parents with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Professor Nordentoft was given the prestigious awards: The Golden Scalpel, Global Excellence in Health, the Richard Wyatt Award, the Marie and August Krogh Award, and the Honorific Award from the Danish Medical Association. In 2017, she was identified as one of the one percent most cited researchers in the period 2005-2015.
She was the president of International Early Psychosis Association (IEPA) from 2012 to 2014, and since 2017 she was a board member of Schizophrenia International Research Society (SIRS).
Novel therapeutic principles against CNS disorders
Sarah Tabrizi, UK
Sarah Tabrizi graduated in biochemistry, then medicine from the University of Edinburgh in 1992. She has worked on research into neurodegenerative diseases since her PhD as an MRC clinical training fellow at UCL. After clinical training, she obtained a DH National Clinician Scientist Fellowship in 2002 to work on protein misfolding at UCL. She was promoted to Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant Neurologist in 2003, and to Full Professor in 2009. In 2016, she founded the UCL Huntington’s Disease Centre where she is currently the Director, and was appointed Joint-Head of the UCL Department of Neurodegenerative Disease in 2017. Her research focuses on understanding the basic cellular mechanisms of neurodegeneration, in particular Huntington’s disease (HD), and finding effective disease-modifying treatments. She was the PI of TRACK-HD and Track-On HD, major international research initiatives aimed at understanding the neurobiology of the neurodegenerative changes in premanifest and early stage HD gene carriers. She was global clinical PI on the world’s first gene silencing study for HD using anti-sense oligonucleotide therapy, sponsored by Ionis pharmaceuticals, the safety study for which successfully completed in December 2017. Sarah co-founded the UK All Party Parliamentary Group for HD in 2010, and was elected a Fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences in 2014. In 2017 she received the seventh Leslie Gehry Brenner Prize for Innovation in Science awarded by the Hereditary Disease Foundation, and was appointed as a Principal Investigator at the UK Dementia Research Institute Hub.
Genomic clues to neurodegenerative disease mechanisms
John Hardy, UK
Hardy received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Leeds in 1976 and his PhD from Imperial College London in 1981 for research on dopamine and amino acid neuropharmacology. Following his PhD, Hardy did postdoctoral research at the MRC Neuropathogenesis Unit in Newcastle upon Tyne, England and then further postdoctoral work at the Swedish Brain Bank in Umeå, Sweden where he started to work on Alzheimer's disease.
He became Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at St. Mary's Hospital, Imperial College London in 1985 and initiated genetic studies of Alzheimer's disease there. He became Associate Professor in 1989 and then took the Pfeiffer Endowed Chair of Alzheimer's Research at the University of South Florida, in Tampa in 1992. In 1996 he moved to Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, as Consultant and Professor of Neuroscience. He became Chair of Neuroscience in 2000 and moved to National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, Maryland, as Chief of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics in 2001. In 2007 he took up the Chair of Molecular Biology of Neurological Disease at the Reta Lila Weston Institute of Neurological Studies, University College London. On 29 November 2015, he was awarded the Breakthrough Prize. In 2018 he was jointly awarded the Brain Prize from Lundbeck.
Molecular mechanisms of synapse formation: implications for neuropsychiatric disorders
Thomas C. Südhof, USA
Thomas Christian Südhof obtained his M.D. and doctoral degrees from the University of Göttingen in 1982. He performed his doctoral thesis work at the Max-Planck-Institut für biophysikalische Chemie in Göttingen with Prof. Victor P. Whittaker on the biophysical structure of endocrine secretory granules, and his internship in the University of Göttingen Hospitals from 1981 to 1982. From 1983-1986, Südhof trained as a postdoctoral fellow with Drs. Mike Brown and Joe Goldstein at UT Southwestern in Dallas, TX, and elucidated the structure, expression and cholesterol-dependent regulation of the LDL receptor gene. Subsequently, Südhof served until 2008 on the faculty of UT Southwestern in Dallas, where Südhof was the founding chair of the Department of Neuroscience. Südhof moved to Stanford University in 2008, and currently holds the positions of Avram Goldstein Professor in the School of Medicine and Director of the Center for Molecular Neuroscience in Health and Disease. In addition, Südhof has been an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 1986. Südhof’s current work focuses on the organization of the trans-synaptic signaling machinery that enables synapse formation and specifications as well as synaptic plasticity during development and throughout life. Here, Südhof’s laboratory is keenly interested not only in understanding the basic processes underlying synaptic function, but also the pathogenetic consequences of impairments of these processes in neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. Südhof is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the recipient of several awards, including the Alden Spencer Award (1993), the National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology (1997), the Bristol-Myers Award in Neuroscience (2004), the Passano Award (2008), the Kavli Award in Neuroscience (2010), the Lasker-deBakey Medical Basic Research Award (2013), and the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (2013).