Rochester Doctor Honored for Alzheimer’s Contributions

December 29, 2005

A Rochester physician has been honored with a national Alzheimer’s disease research award.

Pierre Tariot, M.D., professor of Psychiatry, Medicine, and Neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, recently received the Turken Award, presented each year by the Alzheimer’s Disease Center at the University of California at Los Angeles to a leading researcher nationally.

Since joining the University in 1986, Tariot and his colleagues have contributed to virtually every large study of potential new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, helping to bring to fruition several medications now available to treat patients. During that time Rochester has become well known in research circles for its contributions to Alzheimer’s research. Last year the University was recognized by the National Institute on Aging as the leading site nationwide for the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study, enrolling more patients in studies of the disease than any other site in the country. Through Tariot’s research efforts, more than 1,500 people from the Rochester area have taken part in dozens of Alzheimer’s studies that have helped advance treatment for millions of patients around the globe.

He also established the University as the leading site for Alzheimer’s treatment throughout western New York. Currently about 2,500 people are treated through the University’s Program in Neurobehavioral Therapeutics and its Memory Disorders Clinic. Tariot himself specializes in treating the psychiatric disturbances of the disease, looking for ways to best treat symptoms like agitation, to help both patients and their family members.

Tariot has shown that a common seizure medication holds promise in the treatment of dementia, and he is currently heading a large national study to determine whether the drug might be useful to treat or even prevent Alzheimer’s. He is also playing a major role in a large study to test whether cox-2 inhibitors help prevent the disease.

Tariot helped design one of the largest Alzheimer’s studies to date, a $60 million effort led by the National Institute on Aging to test whether new imaging techniques and other technology can be better used to assess and treat patients with memory loss and dementia. Patients in Rochester as well as dozens of other communities are taking part.

“This is a tremendously exciting time in the world of Alzheimer’s research,” said Tariot. “We really are entering a new era. We’re just beginning to test very specific therapies that are built upon a series of discoveries in the last decade or so about exactly what is happening in the brain of a person with Alzheimer’s disease. This is a crucial step if we are to be successful treating the tens of millions of Americans who will develop dementia over the next several decades.”

Tariot is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Amherst College and earned his medical degree at the University of Rochester. He is a fellow of the Gerentological Society of America, a distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and a member of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

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