Alberta joins forces with Germany to explore mechanisms of prion disease Neurodegenerative disease was an obvious new focus area for the HAI endeavour, given the enormous impact that these diseases have upon society and the critical mass of scientific excellence at the University of Alberta (UoA) and the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE). This new HAI-NDR partnership was officially launched on September 15, 2014 with the joint signature of a memorandum of understanding.

Signature of Research Consortium Agreement for Helmholtz-Alberta Initiative Neurodegenerative Disease Research (HAI-NDR), Helmholtz Association Headquarters, Berlin Participants left to right: Ursula Weyrich (Administrative Director, DZNE), Pierluigi Nicotera (Scientific Director and Chairman, Executive Board DZNE), Jürgen Mlynek (President, Helmholtz Association), Lorne Babiuk (Vice President Research, University of Alberta), Marie Gervais-Vidricaire (the Canadian Ambassador to Germany)

Signature of Research Consortium Agreement for Helmholtz-Alberta Initiative Neurodegenerative Disease Research (HAI-NDR), Helmholtz Association Headquarters, Berlin Participants left to right: Ursula Weyrich (Administrative Director, DZNE), Pierluigi Nicotera (Scientific Director and Chairman, Executive Board DZNE), Jürgen Mlynek (President, Helmholtz Association), Lorne Babiuk (Vice President Research, University of Alberta), Marie Gervais-Vidricaire (the Canadian Ambassador to Germany)

UoA and DZNE scientists have started the first research project, in the area of prion diseases.  These are transmissible, fatal neurological diseases that can affect humans and animals (e.g. Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy).  Although neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease are not transmissible like prion diseases, prion research is highly relevant to understanding how neurodegenerative conditions develop.  This is because many of these diseases are characterized by the abnormal aggregation and spreading of proteins.