BAR HARBOR — Catherine Kaczorowski has been named the first Evnin Family Endowed Chair in Alzheimer’s Research at The Jackson Laboratory.
There is currently no drug that can prevent, cure or even substantially reduce the rate of decline of an individual with Alzheimer’s. The disease currently affects 5 million Americans. While there is much promising research about finding treatments for Alzheimer’s, including the variants and genetic factors that might trigger it, Kaczorowski’s work is different in that it focuses on the genetic factors that protect individuals from the disease, even when they carry a genetic predisposition toward it.
Kaczorowski’s lab uses The Jackson Laboratory’s mouse models to identify the protective factors that determine whether Alzheimer’s progresses, and how rapidly. She calls these protective factors “biomarkers of resilience,” and hopes one day to use that knowledge in the development of new therapies for Alzheimer’s.
“We’ve studied risk in Alzheimer’s disease for a long time, and it hasn’t translated into an effective therapy,” said Kaczorowski. “Sometimes in science, we need to flip the question on its head: stop focusing on risk and start focusing on resilience. My hope is that the identification of these resilience factors will unmask new therapeutic strategies that no one has ever thought about before.”
The fund was established with a $1.5 million gift from Judith and Anthony Evnin. The Jackson Laboratory’s board of trustees will match the Evnins’ gift.
“Dr. Kaczorowski is approaching Alzheimer’s from a novel perspective and one that we believe might eventually lead to prevention of or treatments for the disease,” said Anthony Evnin, a member of the laboratory’s board of trustees.