Friday, July 31, 2009

Science rocks

STAR POWER: From left, Tanzi, Perry and Francis Collins, MD, PhD, former director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health

Eleven national leaders in medical research, including Rudolph Tanzi, PhD, of the MGH, exchanged their lab coats for designer duds in the June issue of GQ magazine. The six-page pictorial spread featured researchers alongside celebrity musicians Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sheryl Crow, Josh Groban, Will-i-am of the Black Eyed Peas and Seal as part of a new public service campaign, "Rock Stars of Science" (Rock S.O.S.). Sponsored by Geoffrey Beene Gives Back® and GQ magazine, Rock S.O.S. aims to raise awareness of the importance of medical research.

Tanzi, director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit in the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease, is a leading researcher on Alzheimer's disease. He has helped identify three genes related to inherited, early-onset forms of Alzheimer's, and his discovery of four genes that may increase risk for the most common form of Alzheimer's was named one of Time magazine's "Top Ten Medical Breakthroughs" of 2008.

"Important medical breakthroughs are impossible without broad public support, and support needs mainstream recognition," says Tanzi. "If medical and scientific research could get the same attention as a great band like Aerosmith, just think how much faster we'd be able to raise the funds needed to cure diseases like Alzheimer's."

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