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Holtzman, Chen recognized for exceptional Alzheimer’s research

Morby prize from Cure Alzheimer’s Fund honors discovery of T cells’ role in neurodegeneration

June 5, 2024

David Holtzman and Xiaoying Chen stand in a laboratoryMatt Miller

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis faculty members David M. Holtzman, MD, the Barbara Burton and Reuben M. Morriss III Distinguished Professor of Neurology, and Xiaoying Chen, PhD, an instructor in neurology, were awarded the inaugural Jeffrey L. Morby Prize from Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the most promising research to prevent, slow or reverse Alzheimer’s disease. The prize recognizes the senior and first authors of a recent scientific publication that transforms the fundamental understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and opens new paths to translate scientific results into effective ways to prevent, diagnose or treat the neurodegenerative condition.

Holtzman and Chen as well as their co-authors were recognized for their groundbreaking 2023 paper, published in Nature, showing that T cells play a key role in neurodegeneration. Studying mice with Alzheimer’s-like damage in their brains, the researchers discovered that microglia, the brain’s resident immune cells, recruit T cells into the brain, where they contribute to neurodegeneration. Most of the cellular damage could be avoided by blocking the T cells’ entry or activation. The findings suggest potential new ways to approach treating Alzheimer’s disease.