New Awards Recognize Distinguished Alzheimer’s Researchers

Recipients Honored by BrightFocus Foundation at International Molecular Neurodegeneration Conference
  • Press Release
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Diane Bovenkamp, Keith Hengen Sharyn Rossi, and Brandon Holmes group picture in front of podium with the ISMIND 2022 logo on it in blue text.
BrightFocus presented its inaugural Alzheimer’s Disease Research Distinguished Investigator awards to Brandon Holmes, PhD, University of California, San Francisco, and Keith Hengen, PhD, Washington University in St. Louis. From left: Diane Bovenkamp, PhD, Vice President, Scientific Affairs; Hengen; Sharyn Rossi, PhD, Director, Neuroscience Research; and Holmes.

(October 18, 2022) Athens, Greece—BrightFocus Foundation last Wednesday presented its inaugural Alzheimer’s Disease Research (ADR) Distinguished Investigator awards to two leading researchers in recognition of their innovative work to prevent, treat, and ultimately cure Alzheimer’s disease. The awards were presented at the inaugural meeting of the International Society for Molecular Neurodegeneration (ISMND) in Athens, Greece.

“The innovative research pursued by this year’s award recipients may change the way we fundamentally understand Alzheimer’s and how we pursue preventions and treatments in the future,” said Diane Bovenkamp, PhD, Vice President, Scientific Affairs at BrightFocus.

The awards recognize the top-ranking annual ADR scientific grant proposals as determined by BrightFocus’ Scientific Review Committee of leading advisors in the field.

The Dr. Edward H. Koo Postdoctoral Fellowship Award for Alzheimer's Disease Research was awarded to Brandon Holmes, MD, PhD, University of California, San Francisco for his project Understanding the Microglia Cell-Surface in Alzheimer’s Disease.

This award honors the seminal role of Edward H. Koo, MD, in the ADR program. A highly respected Alzheimer’s researcher, Dr. Koo served as chair and member of the Foundation's Alzheimer's Disease Research Scientific Review Committee for more than 20 years, helping to expand support for early-stage investigators. The award recognizes exceptionally promising junior researchers and their forward-thinking ideas in Alzheimer’s and related dementias.

"BrightFocus Foundation has made an amazing commitment to foster the next generation of scientists to combat Alzheimer’s disease. I’m inspired by the Foundation’s drive to identify and fund high-risk, high-reward research that will benefit patients’ lives,” said Dr. Holmes. “As an underrepresented individual, I hope that I can contribute, at least a small piece, to the complex puzzle of Alzheimer’s disease."

The Distinguished Investigator Award for Alzheimer’s Disease Research was awarded to Keith Hengen, PhD, Washington University in St. Louis for his project Does Brain Activity in Early Life Predict Future Neurodegeneration?

Conferred upon the top-ranking applicant in the Standard Award Alzheimer’s Disease Research program, this award highlights an innovator and scholar in the Alzheimer’s space whose grant has a high potential for success.

“With the assistance of BrightFocus’ Alzheimer’s Disease Research Distinguished Investigator award, my group is able to take a systems-and-mathematical approach to understanding how degenerative diseases change the brain,” said Dr. Hengen. “The support of BrightFocus is an open door into a new field of research and will shape the course of my career for years to come.”

Alzheimer’s Disease Research, a program of BrightFocus Foundation, has an active grant portfolio of more than $75 million across 287 scientific research grants to defeat Alzheimer’s

More than 230 researchers attended the ISMND 2022 conference, sponsored and organized by BrightFocus and its scientific journal Molecular Neurodegeneration.

To help more early-stage researchers enter the Alzheimer’s research pipeline, BrightFocus provided travel grants to 22 researchers from eight countries, including a diversity fellowship for women and scientists from underrepresented populations, to attend the meeting.

“We are extremely excited about the establishment of ISMND where scientists, physicians, and trainees can interact and collaborate to promote neurodegeneration research and find cures for brain and eye diseases,” said Goujon Bu, PhD, co-editor-in-chief of Molecular Neurodegeneration and ISMND founder. “We hope to continue our collaboration with BrightFocus in growing ISMND to benefit more people around the world.”



About BrightFocus Foundation

BrightFocus Foundation is a premier nonprofit funder of research to defeat Alzheimer’s, macular degeneration, and glaucoma. Through its flagship research programs—Alzheimer’s Disease Research, National Glaucoma Research, and Macular Degeneration Research—the Foundation is currently supporting a $75 million portfolio of 287 scientific projects. BrightFocus has awarded nearly $275 million in groundbreaking medical research funding since inception and shares the latest research findings, expert information, and English/Spanish disease resources to empower the millions impacted by these devastating diseases. Join our community at

About the International Society for Molecular Neurodegeneration 

The International Society for Molecular Neurodegeneration is a nonprofit organization that serves as an accelerator for the contentious improvement of brain and eye health and well-being by creating a multidisciplinary global platform for scientists, physicians, and the public from different facets and scientific disciplines to more readily connect, share, and communicate scientific discoveries, and develop cures for neurodegenerative diseases, in the hopes of a world free of brain and eye diseases.



Julia Roth
BrightFocus Foundation

Kaci Baez
BrightFocus Foundation

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