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Rudolph Tanzi

Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School

Rudolph Tanzi is a Professor of Neurology and holds the Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Endowed Chair in Neurology and Mental Retardation at Harvard University. He is also the Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Tanzi has been investigating the molecular and genetic basis of neurological disease since 1980, when he participated in the pioneering study that led to location of the Huntington’s disease gene, the first disease gene to be found by genetic linkage analysis. Since 1982, Dr. he has investigated the genetic causes of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). He co-discovered all three genes that cause early-onset familial AD, including the first familial AD gene, known as the amyloid β-protein (A4) precursor (APP), and the presenilin genes. In 1993, Tanzi discovered the gene responsible for the neurological disorder known as Wilson’s disease, and over the past 25 years, he has collaborated on studies identifying several other disease genes including those causing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and autism. Tanzi currently spearheads the Alzheimer’s Genome Project, which recently identified four new AD gene candidates. This achievement was named one of the “Top Ten Medical Breakthroughs of 2008” by Time Magazine.

Tanzi is one of the ten most cited researchers in Alzheimer’s disease, having co-authored over 340 research articles. He is also a co-author of a popular trade book on Alzheimer’s disease entitled Decoding Darkness: The Search for the Genetic Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease. Dr. Tanzi has received several awards for his work, including the two highest awards for Alzheimer’s disease research: The Metropolitan Life Foundation Award and The Potamkin Prize. He has also received the Reagan National Alzheimer’s Disease Research Award, an NIH MERIT Award, and the “Oneness of Humanity” Global Award, and is an AAAS Fellow.