PHILADELPHIA - Virginia M.Y. Lee, PhD, the John H. Ware 3rd Professor in Alzheimer's Research in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research at the University of Pennsylvania, will receive the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. The award recognizes Lee's work in understanding how different forms of misfolded proteins can move from cell to cell and lead to disease progression in Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and other dementias and movement disorders.
"It is an honor to receive such a prestigious award, and this funding will help us as we continue to push for a greater understanding of these diseases that can ultimately help us find ways to help millions of these patients," Lee said.
Lee's research focuses on proteins that form pathological inclusions in Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and related neurodegenerative disorders. She discovered tau, alpha-synuclein, and TDP-43 as the critical proteins, and further clarified the role they play in each disease. She demonstrated that cell-to-cell transmission of these pathological proteins explains how each disease progresses. This research has opened up new avenues of research to identify targets for drug discovery to develop better treatments for patients with these disorders.
Now in its eighth year, the Breakthrough Prize recognizes the world's top scientists. Each prize is $3 million and presented in the fields of Life Sciences (up to four per year), Fundamental Physics (one per year) and Mathematics (one per year). In addition, up to three New Horizons in Physics and up to three New Horizons in Mathematics Prizes are given out to early career researchers each year. The new laureates will be recognized at the eighth annual Breakthrough Prize gala awards ceremony Sunday, November 3, at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, and broadcast live on National Geographic.
The Breakthrough Prizes are sponsored by Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, Ma Huateng, Yuri and Julia Milner, and Anne Wojcicki. Selection Committees composed of previous Breakthrough Prize laureates in each field choose the winners. Information on Breakthrough Prize is available at breakthroughprize.org.
Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $7.8 billion enterprise.
The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top medical schools in the United States for more than 20 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $425 million awarded in the 2018 fiscal year.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center--which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report--Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Medicine Princeton Health; and Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional facilities and enterprises include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Penn Home Care and Hospice Services, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.
Penn Medicine is powered by a talented and dedicated workforce of more than 40,000 people. The organization also has alliances with top community health systems across both Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey, creating more options for patients no matter where they live. Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2018, Penn Medicine provided more than $525 million to benefit our community.