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November 8, 2018
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The Alzheimer's Association is awarding Dr. Joanna Jankowsky, associate professor of neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine, a Zenith Fellows research grant. This funding will support scientific investigations into the causes and progression of Alzheimer’s with a goal of uncovering potential new therapy targets.

One of the most prestigious awards in Alzheimer’s research, the Zenith Fellows grants support senior scientists who have contributed significantly to the Alzheimer's disease research field, but need support to advance a new idea. The grant provides Dr. Jankowsky $450,000 in project funding over 3 years. 

Alzheimer’s is a complex, progressive brain disease. Right now there is no treatment that can stop, slow, or prevent its progression. The currently approved Alzheimer’s medications address the worsening of symptoms but are ineffective in changing the disease’s course.

“We must better understand the underlying biology of Alzheimer’s to find new treatments and preventions,” said Richard Elbein, CEO, Alzheimer’s Association Houston & Southeast Texas Chapter. “The Zenith Fellows grants specifically aim to fill this knowledge gap by supporting research on fundamental problems related to early detection, causes, and progression of the disease.”

Jankowsky also is associate professor of molecular and cellular biology, neurology, and neurosurgery as well as associate director of the graduate program in neuroscience at Baylor. She completed her undergraduate degree at Amherst College in Massachusetts and earned her PhD from the California Institute of Technology. She also completed advanced training from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 

Jankowsky’s lab focuses on the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease, meaning what factors influence disease risk and dictate the stereotyped loss of neural circuits needed for memory. 

"One of the mysteries of Alzheimer's disease is how some subjects remain cognitive healthy throughout life despite having neuropathology that should otherwise have caused dementia," said. Dr. Jankowsky.  "Colleagues of ours have used large cohort studies to identify gene variants that could explain this resilience.  With this Zenith Fellows award, my team and I will examine how one of these genes may protect neuronal connections in aging to preserve cognitive function in models of disease."

This latest round of Alzheimer’s Association Zenith Fellows research grants support three scientific investigations totaling $1.35 million. This funding brings the total amount awarded through the program to more than $40 million. The program is funded by members of the Alzheimer’s Association Zenith Society, a group of visionary individuals and organizations that have each committed $1 million or more to the Alzheimer’s Association to support research.

“The Alzheimer’s Association is pleased to make these funds available for cutting-edge research in The Texas Medical Center that challenges prevailing ideas about the causes and progression of Alzheimer’s,” said Elbein. “We are incredibly grateful to the Alzheimer's Association Zenith Society members for their involvement with and generous donations to the Association to make these research grants possible.”

The Zenith Fellows Award Program is part of a larger research funding effort from the Alzheimer’s Association that has awarded more than $435 million to more than 2,900 projects. Alzheimer’s Association funding has led to some of the most important research breakthroughs in dementia science. This includes supporting some of the first Alzheimer’s drug studies and development of the first chemical tracer making it possible to visualize amyloid buildup in the living brain. 

Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. It kills more Americans than diabetes and more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association 2018 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures ( By 2050, the number of people with Alzheimer's is projected to dramatically increase to as many as 14 million, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow or stop the disease. There are 1.4 million Texans providing 1.6 billion hours of unpaid care for the 380,000 Texans living with Alzheimer’s disease. 

For more information, visit the Alzheimer’s Association at 

About the Alzheimer's Association

The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s research, care and support. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. For more information, visit or call 800-272-3900.

About Baylor College of Medicine

Baylor College of Medicine ( in Houston is recognized as health sciences university and is known for excellence in education, research and patient care. It is the only private medical school in the greater southwest and is ranked 16th among medical schools for research and 5th for primary care by U.S. News & World Report. Baylor is listed 21st among all U.S. medical schools for National Institutes of Health funding and No. 1 in Texas. Located in the Texas Medical Center, Baylor has affiliations with seven teaching hospitals and jointly owns and operates Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, part of CHI St. Luke’s Health. Currently, Baylor has more than 3,000 trainees in medical, graduate, nurse anesthesia, physician assistant, orthotics and genetic counseling as well as residents and postdoctoral fellows. Follow Baylor College of Medicine on Facebook ( and Twitter (

Alzheimer's Association

The Alzheimer's Association leads the way to end Alzheimer's and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's and all other dementia.™ For more information, visit or call the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.

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