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Two UCSF Scientists to Receive Prestigious Dementia Research Honor
Date:2/18/2010

disease. Along with Alzheimer’s disease, FTLD is the leading cause of dementia in patients under 65 years.

FTLD presents as several forms -- behavioral FTLD is characterized by emotional deficits, impulsivity and a lack of empathy; semantic dementia is marked by a gradual loss of the meaning associated with words; and progressive non-fluent aphasia is impacts patients’ production of language.

Patients with the behavioral form of the disease frequently exhibit unexpected artistic and musical talents that may initially intensify as the disease progresses, a phenomenon that Miller has documented. This trait is attributed to the strengthening and remodeling of parts of the brain linked to creativity, compensating for damaged areas associated with language.

When Miller started studying FTLD more than 25 years ago, the mantra in neurology was “Don’t pick Pick’s disease,” he says. At the time, the disease was viewed as a “rare, biologically obscure illness that could not be diagnosed at the bedside.”

Today, thanks in part to Miller and colleagues’ pioneering research, neurologists are able to distinguish FTLD from Alzheimer’s disease in its earlier stage. Promising advances have been made in the genetics and molecular pathology of the disorder. Recent developments include testing therapies that target the genetic cause for FTLD, a milestone that Miller describes as “the most exciting work” he has ever undertaken.

Author of the book “The Human Frontal Lobes” and the medical director of the John Douglas French Foundation for Alzheimer’s Disease, Miller works closely with UCSF Nobel laureate Stanley Prusiner, MD, director of the UCSF Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases and, himself, the 1991 recipient of the Potamkin Prize. In the early 2000s, they conducted a clinical trial using an experimental drug to treat the dementia known as Cre
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Two UCSF Scientists to Receive Prestigious Dementia Research Honor
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