Researcher Virginia M.Y. Lee receives $3 million Breakthrough Prize

Virginia M.Y. Lee, the John H. Ware 3rd Professor in Alzheimer’s Research in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in Penn Medicine and director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, will receive the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. The award recognizes Lee’s work in understanding how different forms of misfolded proteins can move from cell to cell and lead to disease progression in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other dementias and movement disorders.

Virginia M.Y. Lee in her lab wearing a lab coat
Virginia M. Y. Lee

“It is an honor to receive such a prestigious award, and this funding will help us as we continue to push for a greater understanding of these diseases that can ultimately help us find ways to help millions of these patients,” Lee says.

Lee’s research focuses on proteins that form pathological inclusions in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and related neurodegenerative disorders. She discovered tau, alpha-synuclein, and TDP-43 as the critical proteins, and further clarified the role they play in each disease. She demonstrated that cell-to-cell transmission of these pathological proteins explains how each disease progresses. This research has opened up new avenues of research to identify targets for drug discovery to develop better treatments for patients with these disorders.

Read more at Penn Medicine News.