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Out of the Alzheimer’s
Research Rabbit Hole

Dr. Karl Herrup
with Jane Rogers

Plaque alone is not the answer to Alzheimer’s. Find out why.

If you only have 3 minutes...

What you'll learn in this podcast....

Karl Herrup, PhD is an Investigator with the University of Pittsburgh Medical School at a laboratory researching the causes of Alzheimer’s. He is a professor of neurobiology and a long-time, well-respected researcher widely known in the field.  In his new book, How Not to Study a Disease: The Story of Alzheimer’s, he speaks out about why we don’t have a cure yet and what’s ahead.

Two decades of research and tens of billions of dollars have not produced a cure for Alzheimer’s. Dr. Herrup explains how a misguided fixation on plaque build up in the brain and big pharma’s economic model prevented researchers from pursuing alternative theories and treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. In this episode, Dr. Herrup demonstrates how an exclusive focus on amyloid and tau prevented researchers from examining and understanding the true complexity of this disease. As the amyloid partisans gained more and more ascendancy and power in the field, it became easier and easier for grants that didn’t embrace that view of the disease to be turned down as not worthy. The same was true with publication of manuscripts. This kind of reductionist fallacy is at the heart of the medical-industrial complex that is stifling alternative lines of enquiry.

Dr. Herrup believes we are finally learning that Alzheimer’s is far more complex than we had originally thought. Of the current research areas and clinical studies that Dr. Herrup finds worthy of further analysis, he and his colleagues are especially focused on maintaining the integrity of our DNA and associated inflammation, which includes the role of senescent cells. By looking back at the errors of the past, we can begin to open our eyes to the greater possibilities of the future.

"The book was my cri de coeur as it were. I think what I really wanted to say is that, ‘Look, this is a complex problem and we do ourselves as researchers and the public in general, a great disservice if we try and make it simple when it's not."
Dr. Karl Herrup

About Dr. Karl Herrup

Karl Herrup received his Bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University in Waltham, MA and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Stanford University in 1974. After two postdoctoral fellowships – in Neurogenetics at Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School, and in Neuropharmacology at the Biozentrum in Basel Switzerland – he joined the faculty of the Human Genetics Department of Yale Medical School. In 1988 he moved to the Boston area to become the Director of the Division of Developmental Neurobiology at the E. K. Shriver Center in Waltham, MA. In 1992 he moved to Case Western Reserve University Medical School and University Hospitals of Cleveland. While there, he directed the University Alzheimer’s Center from 1999 through 2005. In 2006 he moved to the Piscataway/New Brunswick campus of Rutgers University to become Professor and Chair of the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience. In July 2012, he moved to Hong Kong to become the Head of Life Sciences at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Karl has recently returned to Pittsburgh and will be continuing his research with the Pittsburgh Brain Institute. He will also be serving as CTF’s Chief Scientific Advisor and hopes to help guide their funded efforts in the fight against dementia.


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