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Michael W. Weiner, MD, Director, Center for Imaging of Neurodegenerative Diseases at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center (SFVAMC), is one of three physicians to be awarded the 2013 Potamkin Prize for Alzheimer's Research. The $100,000 prize is an internationally recognized tribute for advancing dementia research.

The Potamkin Prize honors researchers for their work in advancing the understanding of Alzheimer’s disease, Pick’s disease and other related disorders. Weiner is receiving the prize for his work toward improving the detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, and achieving a better understanding of the effects of current treatments.

Weiner first conceived of the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), and has served as lead investigator since 2005. ADNI, the largest funded grant to study Alzheimer’s disease, was the first to perform amyloid positron-emission tomographic (PET) imaging brain scans at multiple sites across the United States. Today, amyloid PET imaging is widely available for diagnosis and use in clinical trials.

“None of this would be possible without SFVAMC’s strong leadership and support,” said Weiner, also emphasizing the importance of global collaboration in Alzheimer’s research. “ADNI, a $40 million project, is the only scientific project that shares data with the world as we receive it; we do not embargo it. Sharing this information has increased collaboration and research in the area.” 

“The methods developed by ADNI are now considered the standard for clinical trials,” said Weiner. “Over 1,300 subjects have been enrolled and followed in ADNI. ADNI has led to more than 300 scientific papers, and ADNI projects are ongoing in many countries around the world. I am so grateful to receive this award.”

Weiner, a Veteran of the United States Air Force, has published over 600 peer-reviewed scientific papers. His grants have included studies of Gulf War illness, post traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, ALS, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, HIV/AIDS, and other neurodegenerative conditions. In 2006 he received VA’s highest honor for scientific achievement, the William S. Middleton Award, which recognizes senior VA investigators who have achieved international acclaim for research accomplishments in areas of prime importance to the VA’s research mission. He has also received the Ronald and Nancy Reagan Award from the Alzheimer’s Association.

The Potamkin Prize is made possible by the philanthropic contributions of the Potamkin family of Colorado, Philadelphia and Miami. The goal of the prize is to help attract the best medical minds and most dedicated scientists in the world to the field of dementia research. The Potamkin family has been the American Academy of Neurology's single largest individual donor since 1988, providing more than $2.5 million to fund the Potamkin Prize.

The American Academy of Neurology – an association of more than 25,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care – and the American Brain Foundation will present the award during the Academy’s 65th Annual Meeting to be held March 16-23 in San Diego. Over 10,000 attend the annual meeting, the world’s largest gathering of neurologists.

NCIRE – The Veterans Health Research Institute - is the largest research institute associated with a VA medical center. Its mission is to improve the health and well-being of Veterans and the general public by supporting a world-class biomedical research program conducted by the UCSF faculty at SFVAMC.

The SFVAMC has the largest medical research program in the national VA system, with more than 200 research scientists, all of whom are faculty members at UCSF.

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care.

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December 13, 2017