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Grant bolsters Schrag’s Alzheimer’s disease research

Oct. 17, 2019, 8:32 AM

Matthew Schrag, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Neurology, has received a Paul B. Beeson Emerging Leaders Career Development Award in Aging for research into the function of phospholipase D3 (PLD3), a novel protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease risk.

Matthew Schrag, MD, PhD

The five-year grant from the National Institute on Aging will fund Schrag’s work to clarify the role of PLD3 in cognition in vivo and in lysosome function in cell-based systems to better define the neurobiology of lysosome function in the context of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Because clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease continue to fail, we urgently need to identify new therapeutic targets. Lysosomes are critical for recycling damaged proteins and appear to be defective in aging neurons in Alzheimer’s disease. We hope to develop a new therapeutic approach by rescuing lysosome function. This grant gives us an incredible opportunity to explore the molecular mechanisms underlying abnormal lysosomes in Alzheimer’s disease,” said Schrag.

The award, named for the renowned geriatrician, is a high honor within the aging clinical and research field. Schrag is the seventh recipient at Vanderbilt University Medical Center since the program’s inception in 1995.

“This award showcases the emerging strength in aging and Alzheimer’s research on Vanderbilt’s campus,” said Angela Jefferson, PhD, professor of Neurology, director of the Vanderbilt Memory and Alzheimer’s Center and the first non-physician clinician to receive a Beeson award.

Jefferson will serve as Schrag’s primary mentor for the length of the award with co-mentorship from Laura Dugan, MD, MSCI, professor of Medicine and Abram C. Shmerling Professor of Alzheimer’s and Geriatric Medicine; Jun Li, MD, PhD, professor and chair of Neurology at Wayne State University Medical Center; Harry Vinters, MD, Distinguished Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine of Neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles; and Fiona Harrison, PhD, assistant professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University.

VUMC’s Beeson Scholars include:

  • Nathan Brummel, MD, MSCI, a 2016 recipient (now at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center)
  • Laura Dugan, MD, a 1998 recipient while at Washington University
  • Katherine Gifford, PsyD, a 2015 recipient
  • Susan Bell, MBBS, MSCI, a 2015 recipient
  • E. Wesley Ely, MD, MPH, a 2001 recipient
  • Angela Jefferson, PhD, a 2007 recipient while at Boston University
  • Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI, a 2006 recipient while at Washington University

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