This Youngest Professor Ever at the Mayo Clinic has Identified New Landmark Genetic Causes for Dementia

This Youngest Professor Ever at the Mayo Clinic has Identified New Landmark Genetic Causes for Dementia

Dementia often runs in families and so can amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? ALS is that illness.

While it isn’t always an illness that can be traced genetically, those who have dementia or ALS in their family, and others, can feel uplifted by the fact that science is actually making headway in the search to determine what’s behind these life-changing conditions.

Why do some people suffer and seem to lose the powers of ther mind while others appear to be immune?

Rosa Rademakers, a researcher with the Mayo Clinic, and the youngest person ever in the Mayo system to be named a professorship, is coming up with some answers.


According to an article on, Rademaker and her research team recently identified mutations in something called the progranulin gene that are a major cause of frontotemporal dementia.

The gene is connected with producing progranulin protein, something the brain needs to function properly.

When it’s mutated, the available supply of the protein is reduced, causing ALS to develop in some patients and frontotemporal dementia in others.

Why the effects of the mutation surface differently in different people is still unknown, but Rademaker is being celebrate for leading the recent discoveries.

According to, she will receive one of the most prestigious honors in neuroscience, the 2016 Potamkin Prize for Research in Pick’s, Alzheimer’s and Related Diseases.

The prize includes a $100,000 cash award, which Rademaker received this Monday during the 68th annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Frontotemporal dementia can affect people as young as 40 years old.

Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS is a quickly progressing neuromuscular disease that attacks the motor neurons in the brain.

Patients diagnosed with ALS have a life expectancy of 3 to 5 years, on average, after diagnosis. Thank you, Rademaker for making a difference!



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