ABOUT US International Research Advisory Council
The Alberta Prion Research Institute relies on members of its International Research Advisory Council, an independent group of international prion and protein misfolding experts, to provide its most senior level of scientific advice.
JASON BARTZ, CHAIR
Dr. Jason Bartz is a Professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology at Creighton University. Dr. Bartz’s research in prion diseases spans more than 20 years and has investigated interspecies transmission, pathogenesis, the environmental fate of prions and the biology of prion strains. The result of this work on interspecies transmission has changed the paradigm of how a protein encoded infectious agent can encode strain diversity and how prion strains interact. These findings have a significant impact on both prion diseases and other protein misfolding diseases (e.g. Parkinson’s) where strain diversity has recently been observed. This work on prion pathogenesis has identified new efficient routes of neuroinvasion and has identified novel pathways of prion transport. Dr. Bartz’s studies of the environmental fate of prions have resulted in fundamental discoveries on how prions interact with the environment and how this influences the biology of prion disease.
John Hardy received his degree in Biochemistry from Leeds in 1976 and his PhD from Imperial College in Neuropharmacology in 1979. He did postdocs at the MRC Neuropathogenesis Unit and the Swedish Brain Bank, in Umea, where he started to work on Alzheimer’s disease. In 1985 he took the job of Lecturer in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at St Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College, where he began working on the genetics of Alzheimer’s disease. In 1991 he led the group which found the first mutation in the amyloid gene which caused Alzheimer’s disease. This finding led him and others to formulate the amyloid hypothesis for the disease. In 1992 he moved to the United States, to the University of South Florida. In 1996 he moved to the Mayo Clinic where he became Chair of the Department of Neuroscience in 2000. In 1998 he was part of the consortium which identified mutations in the tau gene in Pick’s disease. In 2001 he moved to the NIH to become the Chief of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics, where he was part of the group which found triplications in the synuclein gene caused Parkinson’s disease. He returned to the Department of Molecular Neuroscience at the Institute of Neurology in 2007. He has won the Allied Signal, Potamkin, MetLife and Kaul Prizes, for his work on Alzheimer’s disease and the Anna Marie Opprecht Prize for his work on Parkinson’s disease. He has also received the 2011 Khalid Iqbal Lifetime Achievement Award in Alzheimer’s Disease Research, the IFRAD 2011 European Grand Prize for Alzheimer's Research, the Dan David Prize, the Thudichum Medal from the Biochemical Society and the Robert A. Pritzker Prize by the Michael J Fox Foundation. He is the recipient of the 3rd Lord Brain Memorial Medal. He has been elected a member of the Academy of Medical Sciences and made an FRS by the Royal Society in 2009. He received the Piepenbrock-DZNE Award and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences in 2015 and the Helis Prize in 2016.
Dr. James Hope graduated in Chemistry (B.Sc) and Biochemistry (M.Sc) at Imperial College, London, followed by research on the structure and function of pituitary protein hormones at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical School, London (PhD). In 1984, following a post-doc in cell biology, he was appointed to create and lead a molecular sciences group working on scrapie, a disease of sheep, at the AFRC/MRC Neuropathogenesis Unit, Edinburgh. Between 1984 and 2000 (including a period as Acting Head of Unit) he developed a programme of research on the protein chemistry, molecular biology and genetics of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies and became an expert in the molecular aspects of BSE, scrapie and CJD. In December 2000, he joined VI Technologies (VITEX) Inc., Watertown, MA, USA as Vice President Molecular Sciences. He led a team focused on improving the safety of the human blood supply with respect to prions and other pathogens. He returned to the UK in December 2002 as Deputy Chief Scientist and Head of TSE Department within Defra’s Animal Health & Veterinary Laboratory Agency. He left public service in November 2016 to develop initiatives in the One Health forum worldwide. Dr Hope has advised the UK Government, EU, OIE, WHO and industry on TSE problems since 1988, and was a member of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Bio-Hazards panel from its inauguration in 2003 until 2012. He has published over 100 research papers and has a Hirsch Index of 41.
Dr. Corinne Lasmezas obtained her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine and Masters of Aeronautic and Space Medicine at the University of Toulouse, and her PhD in Neurosciences at the University of Paris, France. She started studying the neurodegenerative diseases caused by prions at the French Atomic Energy Commission in the early 1990s, when mad cow disease had just appeared in the United Kingdom. In 1996, her research provided the first experimental proof that mad cow disease had been transmitted to humans. She established the experimental models to study the pathogenesis of the disease caused by bovine prions. She studied the role of the immune system, the propagation of the infectious agent in the organism, and the neurodegenerative process. At the peak of the mad cow disease crisis, she had become an advisor for several European governmental and public health committees and for the World Health Organization. Since her appointment at Scripps Florida in 2005, her research team has focused on how prions replicate and lead to neuronal dysfunction and loss, and on the search for drugs to halt the neurodegenerative process in prion and other age-related neurodegenerative diseases.
Dr. Mark Zabel is tenured Professor, Associate Director of the Prion Research Center and Associate Head of Graduate Education in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University. He earned his PhD in experimental pathology from the University of Utah. Dr. Zabel was awarded the prestigious Human Frontiers in Science Long Term Research Fellowship and received postdoctoral training in prion biology, biochemistry and pathology from the laboratory of Dr. Adriano Aguzzi at the Neuropathology Institute, University Hospital of Zürich. Dr. Zabel received the University of Utah Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Distinguished Alumni Award in 2010 and the Pfizer Award for Excellence in Veterinary Research in 2013. He is an Academic Editor for PLoS One, Journal of Molecular Immunology and mSphere.
Dr. Inga Zerr is a neurologist at the Neurologic University Hospital, the head of the dementia and prion research group, and a Professor of Neurodegenerative Disorders in the Department of Neurology at Georg August University, Göttingen, Germany. Her scientific research activities include: cerebrospinal fluid research, clinical diagnosis of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), pre-mortem diagnostic techniques in TSE, epidemiological studies on transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, risk factors of CJD, and differential diagnosis of dementia and treatable dementia. Dr. Zerr has participated in and coordinated many national, European Union and World Health Organization research initiatives and risk assessment working groups, and she is widely published in the area of CJD.
International Research Advisory Council
Professor, Creighton University
Omaha, Nebraska, USA
Chair of Department of Molecular Neuroscience and Reta Lila Weston Laboratories
UCL Institute of Neurology, UK
Advisor, UK Government, EU, OIE, WHO
Professor, Department of Infectology, The Scripps Research Institute
Jupiter, Florida, USA
Professor, Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
Georg August University