London dementia researcher is first UK winner of $3m Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences

Posted on 9th November 2015

UCL dementia researcher Prof John Hardy was last night awarded the $3 million Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for his pioneering research into the genetic causes of Alzheimer’s disease, other forms of dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences honours ‘transformative advances toward understanding living systems and extending human life’. This is the first time that the prize has been awarded to a UK researcher, reflecting the UK’s world-leading position in dementia research. Prof Hardy’s work includes the discovery of rare faulty genes linked to Alzheimer’s and other dementias that have shed new light on the biology of the diseases. Based at the UCL Institute of Neurology in London, Prof Hardy has received funding from Alzheimer’s Research UK, been a member of our Grant Review Board and is currently a Lead Academic Scientist at the Alzheimer’s Research UK UCL Drug Discovery Institute.

Prof Hardy said: “It is a great honour to be awarded the prize for our work dissecting the causes of Alzheimer and Parkinson’s diseases. It is, of course, our hope and aim that this understanding leads to effective treatments. At UCL with the Alzheimer’s Research UK Drug Discovery Institute, the Wolfson Experimental Neurology Centre and the fantastic clinical team we have at the Institute of Neurology, I feel we can beat these diseases.”

Prof John Hardy, UCL

Using innovative genetic analysis methods, Prof Hardy has made major contributions to the study of almost all major neurodegenerative diseases. He has published over 850 scientific papers, many of which are focused on neurological disorders and more specifically the genetics of Alzheimer’s disease. His research has underpinned nearly all basic science and treatment research into Alzheimer’s disease over the last 20 years.

Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“We have to congratulate Prof Hardy for his huge contribution to dementia research, from the influential discoveries he made over 20 years ago to those still continuing to drive forward our understanding of the condition today. UK dementia researchers punch above their weight on the global stage and it is talented and passionate scientists like Prof Hardy whose work has transformed research into this complex set of diseases. We are proud that Alzheimer’s Research UK has been able to support Prof Hardy in his pioneering research and are determined to translate our growing knowledge of dementia into new treatments through the work of the Alzheimer’s Research UK UCL Drug Discovery Institute, as well as other world-class initiatives in dementia research.”

Prof Alan Thompson, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences, says: “This exciting and extremely prestigious prize recognises Prof John Hardy’s pivotal role in advancing our understanding in a number of major, disabling neurodegenerative diseases, in particular Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. The discoveries made by John and his team laid the foundations for much of the broad base of dementia research that takes place at UCL today.”

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