established in boston in 1988 by leaders of the business and scientific communities, the Foundation accelerates the disease discovery process by supporting innovative biomedical research. Our work is carried out at the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases, a world-renowned laboratory in the Department of Neurology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, strategically located in the new BWH Building for Transformative Medicine.
The Foundation’s research programs are led by Dennis J. Selkoe, MD, the Vincent and Stella Coates Professor of Neurologic Diseases at Harvard Medical School, and by Howard L. Weiner, MD, the Robert L. Kroc Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. Drs. Selkoe and Weiner are internationally recognized for their original contributions to research in their respective fields of Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
Alzheimer’s affects an estimated 5 million people in the United States alone. MS disables more than 500,000 American adults, often in their prime years. Over 500,000 are believed to have Parkinson’s. The Foundation is committed to accelerating the understanding and treatment of these devastating and costly diseases by:
Providing critical philanthropic start-up funds for novel experimental approaches that may produce significant breakthroughs.
Supporting young scientists dedicating their careers to innovative applied neurobiological research.
Obtaining advanced scientific equipment crucial to making rapid progress on new research projects.
The Foundation focuses exclusively on innovative ideas that present both higher scientific risk and greater chances for conceptual breakthroughs. Importantly, for more than two decades, all new contributions to the Foundation have gone directly to research expenditures; no portion is diverted to administration, fundraising or advertising.
Dr. Dennis Selkoe
dr. selkoe’s groundbreaking work focuses on the abnormal build-up of the amyloid ß-protein (Aß) into amyloid deposits as the principal cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Research conducted by Dr. Selkoe and his colleagues has revealed that small, soluble doublets and triplets (called “oligomers”) of the Aß protein are directly responsible for synaptic injury and memory loss. Dr. Selkoe’s numerous discoveries over a period of three decades have underpinned the steady movement worldwide towards disease-modifying treatments—and ultimately preventions for—Alzheimer’s.
We are witnessing the movement of Alzheimer research from the bench into the clinic. We appear to have made enough progress in understanding the fundamental biological origins of Alzheimer’s disease to conceive of and develop specific agents that can treat—and perhaps even prevent—the disease. The emphasis in the next few years will clearly be on testing these concepts and actual compounds in patients.
Dr. Howard Weiner
dr. weiner’s pioneering research has focused on the immune system and its role in multiple sclerosis. He and his colleagues have identified specific immune abnormalities in MS and treatments to correct them.
Dr. Weiner founded the Partners Multiple Sclerosis Center, one of the largest and most comprehensive MS centers in the world, which combines treatment, MRI scanning, and laboratory studies to understand mechanisms involved at different stages of the disease.
At the MS Center, Dr. Weiner has initiated a large-scale long-term study of over 2,000 individuals with MS to investigate the course of the disease over time. Blood tests and computer modeling will aid in predicting the future course of the disease at the earliest stages of the illness. The study will also determine the effects of treatment on disease progression and accumulation of disability.
Trying to cure multiple sclerosis has been exciting, and even more frustrating than I imagine climbing Mount Everest would be. The tempo and time frame are different. There are more unknowns. The stakes are higher. No one’s been there before.
FND board of directors:
Jon G. Auerbach
Joanne S. Chertok
Philip M. Friedmann
Dennis J. Selkoe, M.D.
Shirley S. Siff
Howard L. Weiner, M.D.
honorary board member:
Edward C. Johnson 3d
imagine you are a medical researcher dedicated to finding a treatment for a devastating disease. You have a theory. It is based on your own research and related findings from other scientists, but it has yet to be validated. As a result, mainstream sources of support are not yet willing to subsidize your work and advance the potential hope that it represents.
The Foundation for Neurologic Diseases is specifically dedicated to funding the discovery-to-treatment continuum by providing the necessary resources to take a theory from experimental research through to clinical trials. We fill a critical gap in biomedical funding by supporting researchers who are actively pursuing new and sometimes scientifically risky experimental approaches not yet ready for traditional funding. Time and again, FND seed funding has enabled us to obtain NIH and other grants that help us move down the pathway towards treatment.
For individuals concerned about how best to increase the pace of research on catastrophic neurologic diseases, the Foundation fosters a special partnership by:
- Bringing knowledgeable donors and senior scientists together to discuss particular disease-related projects of interest to the donor.
- Encouraging donors to visit the laboratories and learn about our work first-hand.
- Providing donors with progress reports in lay language at regular intervals.
In short, the informed contributor is invited to become an active partner in the exciting and urgent effort to solve some of the most tragic disorders facing society today.