UCSF neurologist William Seeley, MD, a clinician-researcher whose work is advancing understanding of neurodegenerative diseases, has been named a 2011 MacArthur Fellow, one of the highest honors bestowed on an individual in the United States.
Seeley, age 39, and an associate professor of neurology in the UCSF Memory and Aging Center, has made significant headway in studies of frontotemporal dementia, a family of neurological syndromes usually afflicting people in midlife, and second only to Alzheimer's as the primary cause of progressive pre-senile dementia.
A physician who treats patients and conducts clinical research, he integrates microscopy, magnetic resonance imaging and clinical examination to explore the structural, functional and behavioral aspects of neurodegenerative diseases.
In 2006, he identified a population of cells, known as von Economo neurons, that are the primary target of FTD. Further differentiating patients based on behavioral manifestations, he mapped specific changes in cortical connectivity networks that correspond with each clinical subtype of FTD.
The research represents a key step toward identifying the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the initiation and spread of frontotemporal dementia and lays the groundwork for developing targeted treatments to halt its progression. Insights into the disease are expected to shed light on other neurodegenerative diseases.
"Bill's research is novel and groundbreaking," said Bruce Miller, MD, director of the UCSF Memory and Aging Center. "His imaging studies probe the selective vulnerability of brain circuits with aging and are changing the way that we study neurodegenerative diseases. He exemplifies the concept of genius."
UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, noted Seeley's role as a clinician-scientist. "Bill exemplifies the critical role played by physician-researchers in biomedical research today," she said, "using
|Contact: Jennifer O'Brien|
University of California - San Francisco