The Rainwater Charitable Foundation, one of the largest independent funders of neurodegenerative disease research, today announced Dr. Alison Goate (the Jean C. and James W. Crystal Professor and Chair of Genetics, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai) and Dr. Martin Kampmann (Associate Professor for Neurodegenerative Diseases, University of California in San Francisco) as this year’s recipients of the Rainwater Prize for Outstanding Innovation in Neurodegenerative Research and the Rainwater Prize for Innovative Early-Career Scientist, respectively.
Dr. Goate, the Jean C. and James W. Crystal Professor and Chair of Genetics at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, has been a leader in genetics of tauopathies for more than thirty years. Her early work focused on Mendelian forms of dementia leading to the identification of mutations in APP, PSEN1, and MAPT as causes of Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia. These groundbreaking discoveries paved the way for mechanistic studies and therapeutic development. In recent years, Dr. Goate has been instrumental in the use of 2D and 3D-organoid cultures to better understand how variants influence dementia risk, providing insight into the molecular changes produced by these genetic risk factors.
“This prize has special meaning to me because I’ve been involved with the Tau Consortium, a program of the Rainwater Charitable Foundation, for over 10 years,” said Dr. Goate. “What I do requires teamwork and building knowledge together to change things together. In accepting this prize, I know that I’m a representative of many other people and that I wouldn’t be where I am without all of those other people.”
Dr. Kampmann, Associate Professor for Neurodegenerative Diseases at the University of California in San Francisco, and his lab conducted the first genomic-wide CRISPR screens in human neurons to systematically identify genes controlling neuronal survival. He also played a key role in providing the first molecular description of neurons that are particularly vulnerable in Alzheimer’s Disease. Dr. Kampmann’s work demonstrates his remarkable ability to combine cutting-edge technology and unwavering determination to uncover biological insights.
“I am honored to be recognized with this incredible prize and grateful for the support of the Rainwater Charitable Foundation and the community of researchers in tauopathy,” said Dr. Kampmann. “It means the world to me that the Rainwater Charitable Foundation has been so transformative in their support for our research, enabling us to bring new approaches to the Tau field.”
The Rainwater Prize Program fosters scientific discovery by elevating awareness of the gaps in neurodegenerative research, bringing new researchers into the tauopathy field, and awarding scientific achievements that could lead to innovative, effective treatments. The Prize Program promotes four main prize categories. The above Outstanding Innovation ($250,000) and Early-Career ($150,000) Prizes will be awarded at Global Tau 2022, on February 23rd, 2022, in Washington DC. The Rainwater Prize program also promotes challenge prizes that will only be awarded when certain scientific milestones or breakthrough treatments are achieved. These prizes range from $2 million for addressing specific needs in clinical model development, early detection, biomarkers, and basic understanding of disease mechanism, up to $10 million for an FDA-approved treatment that prevents and/or reverses disease damage from PSP. The milestone and breakthrough category prizes will be awarded in the future upon achievement and discoveries.
“The Rainwater Charitable Foundation is grateful for the opportunity to honor Dr. Goate and Dr. Kampmann for their groundbreaking and highly collaborative efforts in the neurodegenerative disease field,” said Dr. Amy Rommel, Scientific Program Director for the Rainwater Charitable Foundation. “It is no surprise that these two world-renowned investigators happen to also be close collaborators, who have published together and are working on several ongoing important programs collectively.”
Dr. Goate and Dr. Kampmann were nominated by peers and colleagues based on published and peer-reviewed research related to neurodegenerative disease. They were selected based on their research, leadership, mentorship, and positive impact within the scientific community. Both winners are members of the Tau Consortium, a program – launched by the Rainwater Charitable Foundation in 2010 – that commissions world-class research and drug discovery with the goal to treat and prevent primary tauopathies like progressive supranuclear palsy, as well as secondary ones such as Alzheimer’s disease. Rainwater Prizes are funded separately from the Rainwater Charitable Foundation, with awardees nominated by a prize selection committee operating independently from the Tau Consortium program.
For more information on this year’s prize winners, please visit www.rainwaterprize.org.
About the Rainwater Charitable Foundation’s Medical Research
The Rainwater Charitable Foundation (RCF) was created in the early 1990s by renowned private equity investor and philanthropist Richard E. Rainwater. RCF supports a range of programs in K-12 education, medical research, and other worthy causes. In order to deliver on its mission to accelerate the development of new diagnostics and treatments for tau-related neurodegenerative disorders, the Rainwater Charitable Foundation Medical Research team manages the Tau Consortium and the Rainwater Prize Program. With over $100 million invested to date, the Rainwater Foundation has helped to advance eight treatments into human trials.