Generet Award for the Belgian geneticist Rosa Rademakers
Rosa Rademaker is a specialist of frontotemporal dementia, an uncommon form of the dreaded neurodegenerative disease. The Generet Award for Rare Diseases in 2022, worth one million euros, was a reward for her research work.
Christine Van Broeckhoven is perhaps the best known Belgian authority on dementia today, thanks to her high-level international research. Under her leadership, biochemist Rosa Rademakers received her PhD in 2005 with a dissertation on two family trees with dementia. She discovered that these families did not have Alzheimer's disease, as had been suspected, but rather frontotemporal dementia (FTD). During her ongoing research at the Mayo Clinic in Florida, she found the genes that trigger this variant. In 2019, Rosa followed in the footsteps of Christine Van Broeckhoven as Director of the VIB Center for Molecular Neurology in Wilrijk, Antwerp.
Dementia is caused by the accumulation of harmful proteins in the brain that cause cells to die or disappear. While Alzheimer's disease primarily causes memory loss, people with FTD initially have problems with empathy and exhibit behavioural changes. There is currently no hope of treatment or a cure, but the prospect of therapies to slow the spread of these proteins is positive, as scientists are starting to see the disease process more clearly. The Generet Award is an important financial contribution to the continuation of the research.