Friday, August 22, 2014

Albers honored with Wilkens endowed chair


SCIENTIFIC STRIDES: From left: Merit Cudkowicz, chief of MGH Neurology, Albers and Slavin

Mark Albers, MD, PhD, of the Department of Neurology, was named the first incumbent of the Frank Wilkens, Jr. and Family Endowed Chair in Alzheimer’s Disease Research. The chair was established and funded by the Wilkens family to honor the late Frank Wilkens, Jr., a patient of Albers, and to advance a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

Peter L. Slavin, MD, MGH president, welcomed members of the Wilkens family, along with Albers’ colleagues, family and friends, to the afternoon reception held in the MGH Richard B. Simches Research Center on Aug. 6.

“Mark is clearly a rising star,” said Slavin. “This chair provides critical support to help him and the department thrive at a time when funding is so limited, especially for diseases like Alzheimer’s that are grossly underfunded.”

Albers specializes in memory and olfactory disorders. His work focuses on enabling doctors to identify at risk patients sooner and helping scientists develop treatments to prevent Alzheimer’s from progressing. He began his MGH career as an internal medicine resident and then trained in neurology. He was one of the first chief residents for the Partners Neurology Residency Program.

Following clinical training, Albers resumed basic research studies in the laboratory of Nobel laureate Richard Axel, MD, at Columbia University, and practiced behavioral neurology in the Memory Disorders Center at the Neurological Institute of New York. He returned to the MGH, where he currently sees patients in the Memory Disorders Unit and on the inpatient neurology service. As a basic scientist, Albers uses novel mouse models to elucidate drug targets for the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. In the clinical arena, he is developing a set of simple but powerful tools that explore the sense of smell to screen for the very earliest preclinical stages of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

“It is a privilege to work at the MGH every day,” said Albers. “With the establishment of the Wilkens chair, I and future honorees will be able to devote our energies to the core purposes of this great institution: providing excellent patient care and conducting translational and curiosity-driven research at the highest level.”

Read more articles from the 08/22/14 Hotline issue.

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