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Rudolph Tanzi

Harvard University
Neurology Professor
Dr. Rudolph Tanzi is an internationally renowned neuroscientist, author and musician. His scientific expertise is in Alzheimer’s disease and brain health. He serves as Vice-Chair of Neurology, Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit, and Co-Director of the Henry and Allison McCance Center for Brain Health at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is also the Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Tanzi received his B.S. (microbiology) and B.A. (history) at the University of Rochester in 1980 and his Ph.D. (neurobiology) at Harvard Medical School in 1990. He is one of the world’s leading scientists in research aimed at preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease. His research studies and books have also focused on preserving and promoting brain health. In his research achievements, Dr. Tanzi served on the team that was the first to find a disease gene ((Huntington’s disease) using human genetic markers, helping to launch the field of neurogenetics. Dr. Tanzi went on to identify all three early-onset familial Alzheimer’s disease genes: the amyloid precursor protein and presenilins 1 and 2. As leader of the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund Alzheimer’s Genome Project, he has identified several other Alzheimer’s disease genes, including the first shown to causing neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s disease (CD33). Dr. Tanzi also discovered the Wilson’s disease gene and several other neurological disease genes.

Dr. Tanzi and his team have used Alzheimer’s genes and human stem cells to create “Alzheimer’s-in-a-Dish” -  a three-dimensional human stem cell-derived neural culture system that was the first to recapitulate both pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease: plaques and tangles. This model has made drug screening for Alzheimer’s disease considerably faster and more effective. Using this system, Dr. Tanzi has developed several novel therapies for AD including gamma secretase modulators aimed at plaque pathology. These promising drugs are now heading into clinical trials in Alzheimer’s disease. Most recently, Dr. Tanzi and his team have discovered that beta-amyloid, the main component of senile plaques, may play a role in the innate immune system of the brain operating as an anti-microbial peptide, suggesting a possible role for infection in the etiology and pathogenesis of AD.

Dr. Tanzi has published over 500 research papers and has received the highest awards in his field, including the Metropolitan Life Foundation Award, Potamkin Prize, Ronald Reagan Award, Silver Innovator Award, and the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award, the top national award for invention and innovation. He serves on dozens of editorial boards and scientific advisory boards and was named to TIME magazine’s list of TIME100 Most Influential People in the World. He also co-authored the books Decoding Darkness, and the three international bestsellers, Super BrainSuper Genes, and The Healing Self. Dr. Tanzi is also a musician who professionally records and performs (keyboards), most recently with Joe Perry and Aerosmith.