The Rainwater Charitable Foundation (RCF) is proud to announce Dr. Cristian Lasagna-Reeves, Associate Professor at Indiana University School of Medicine, and Investigator at Stark Neuroscience Research Institute, as the recipient of the 2024 Rainwater Prize for Innovative Early-Career Scientist. Accompanied by an award of $200,000, this accolade acknowledges Dr. Lasagna-Reeves’ exceptional contributions to neurodegenerative disease research, particularly his innovative work in understanding the role of tau protein in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. 

Throughout his career, Dr. Lasagna-Reeves has exhibited exemplary dedication to neurodegenerative disease research. His laboratory primarily investigates the involvement of the microtubule protein tau in the development of Alzheimer’s disease and other related neurodegenerative conditions. Through a multifaceted approach encompassing cutting-edge basic science, drug discovery initiatives to understand disease mechanisms, and the pursuit of novel therapeutic targets, Dr. Lasagna-Reeves is at the forefront of scientific innovation and breakthroughs. 

A testament to Dr. Lasagna-Reeves’ scholarly impact is evident in his peer-reviewed publication record of over 5,000 citations, with works featured in journals such as Molecular Neurodegeneration, Journal of Neuroinflammation, and Science Translational Medicine. His seminal study, published in Nature Neuroscience, garnered widespread acclaim, was hailed as the “most impactful study published in Alzheimer’s research over the preceding two years” at the 2023 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference. This research discovered how the Bassoon protein may contribute to the aggregation and spreading of pathological forms of tau.  As a result, downregulation of Bassoon could offer new avenues for therapeutic intervention for tauopathies. 

Beyond his scientific achievements, Dr. Lasagna-Reeves is committed to providing mentorship to the next generation of neurodegenerative researchers. Dr. Lasagna-Reeves has received accolades for his teaching and is recognized by colleagues for his biomedical expertise as well as his integrity, enthusiasm, and character.  

In accepting the Rainwater Prize, Dr. Lasagna-Reeves expressed profound gratitude for the recognition of his work and its potential impact on the field of neurodegenerative research. “I am honored to receive this award; it is one of the most important achievements of my career,” remarked Dr. Lasagna-Reeves. “This recognition of the years of hard work has been a great motivator for both myself and the people in my lab.” 

Established by RCF in 2018 and now in its fifth year, the Rainwater Prize Program aims to honor scientific advancements in primary tauopathies and motivate scientists in the field of neurodegenerative disease research. Through the acknowledgement of outstanding researchers such as Dr. Lasagna-Reeves, the program seeks to highlight significant accomplishments that drive us closer to treatments and a cure for primary tauopathies, like progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), corticobasal degeneration (CBD) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). 

Jeremy Smith, President of RCF, praised Dr. Lasagna-Reeves’ contributions, stating, “Dr. Lasagna-Reeves’ winning this year’s Innovative Early-Career Scientist Prize recognizes the scientific discoveries that could lead to a potential new therapeutic approach for tauopathies. We’re proud to support [his] research and provide resources that may contribute to potential future breakthroughs in our understanding of tau.” 

For more information on Dr. Lasagna-Reeves’ innovative research and the Rainwater Prize Program, please visit The Rainwater Charitable Foundation‘s website.