The Alzheimer’s Association recently named Kate Foley, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Neurology at Indiana University School of Medicine, as the inaugural Dr. Mel Perelman Fellow for Alzheimer’s Research.
Foley is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Donna Wilcock, PhD, the Barbara and Larry Sharpf Professor of Alzheimer’s Disease Research and the Director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Disorders in the IU School of Medicine-IU Health Neuroscience Institute.
This research fellowship, named in honor of the late Mel Perelman, PhD, a former executive of Eli Lilly and Company, will be awarded annually to an IU School of Medicine researcher who has been vetted and selected by the Alzheimer’s Association’s Medical and Scientific Advisory Group to receive a research grant.
Through the fellowship, the Alzheimer’s Association will fund Foley’s research investigating the role of APOE4, a risk factor gene for Alzheimer’s disease, and the cellular response of astrocytes and microglia to anti-beta-amyloid immunotherapy and amyloid related imaging abnormalities (ARIA).
“I have always been interested in harnessing genetic and environmental factors to mitigate the comorbidities and causes of neurodegenerative symptoms,” Foley said. “I am so honored to be presented with the first-ever Dr. Mel Perelman Fellowship from the Alzheimer’s Association. This support for my research makes all the difference for this project, and I am excited to get started.
The Association will also sponsor Foley’s travel expenses to the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC), set for 2024 in Philadelphia.
“This conference will allow me to share my work with fellow Alzheimer’s disease researchers and learn about other efforts to combat ARIA as this is a quickly progressing and extremely important niche within Alzheimer’s disease research efforts,” Foley said.
The Alzheimer’s Association partnered with friends and former colleagues of Perelman to establish the fellowship, and the Association plans to award a minimum of 10 fellowships over the next decade to IU School of Medicine researchers.
Perelman worked at Eli Lilly and Company for 36 years. He began his career at the pharmaceutical company in 1957 as an organic chemist and was later elected president of Lilly International in 1976. Perelman later served as executive vice president of Eli Lilly and Company and president of Lilly Research Laboratories from 1986 until his retirement in 1993.
He also had a strong connection at IU. Perelman was a member of the IU School of Medicine board of advisors and served as the chairman of the school’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign. Perelman received the IU President’s Medal for Excellence in 1996 and received an honorary doctorate degree from IU in 2003.
“Mel was a respected scientist and business and community leader who took interest in and willingly served to mentor many Lilly associates,” said Daniel P. Carmichael, member of the Perelman Fellowship Organizing Committee. “Sadly, late in his life, Mel suffered from the progressive deterioration of dementia. We believe the fellowship will be a fitting way to both honor Mel as well as advance research in a horrible disease that has been very stingy in releasing its secrets.”
Bruce Lamb, PhD, executive director of Stark Neurosciences Research Institute and chair of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Group for the Alzheimer’s Association, said the fellowship will support early career scientists and is designed to address gaps in research efforts.
“This will support a wide range of the most promising grant projects,” Lamb said, “from basic discovery science to studies addressing social and behavioral aspects of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.”