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UCSF neurologist William Seeley, M.D., named MacArthur Fellow
Date:9/21/2011

an arsenal of tactics to move in on devastating diseases and identify potential new targets for therapy."

The MacArthur honor, which includes $500,000 in support over the next five years, to be used at the recipient's discretion, recognizes individuals for "their creativity, originality, and potential to make important contributions in the future," said Robert Gallucci, president of the MacArthur Foundation. It recognizes "how individual creativity and talent can spark new insights and ideas in every imaginable field of human endeavor."

The MacArthur Foundation announced the 22 new 2011 fellows today.

"I am overwhelmed with pride as a husband and new father" said Seeley, speaking from the maternity suite of the hospital where his wife gave birth to their first child -- a little girl yesterday, "and of course with gratitude for the recognition of the MacArthur Foundation. The award redoubles my commitment to work with my UCSF colleagues toward the long-term goal of finding treatments for FTD and other forms of neurodegeneration."

Frontotemporal dementia is a group of related conditions resulting from the progressive degeneration of the temporal and frontal lobes of the brain. These areas of the brain play a significant role in decision-making, behavioral control, emotion and language.

In people under age 60, it is the most common cause of dementia and affects as many people as Alzheimer's disease in the 45-64 age group. Men are affected more commonly than women. There are several forms of the disease that lead to slightly different behavioral, language and/or motor symptoms. There is no treatment or cure yet that can reverse the damage, but medications and lifestyle changes can help relieve the symptoms.

Seeley's discovery that von Economo neurons die early in FTD has implications beyond the disease, itself. Because the cells arose only recently in evolutionary history in a common ancestor of great apes and
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Contact: Jennifer O'Brien
jennifer.obrien@ucsf.edu
415-502-6397
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert

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