Research Published February 6 2020
Bassem Hassan

Bassem Hassan

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Paris, February 5th 2020 – Bassem Hassan, head of the “Brain Development” team and Scientific Director of the Brain and Spinal Cord Institute (Institut du Cerveau – ICM), received the Roger de Spoelberch Prize for his research project in the field of neurodegenerative diseases. 

Each year, the Geneva-based Roger de Spoelberch Foundation awards its prize to a clinical and fundamental scientific research project in the field of neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases. 

This year, Bassem Hassan, head of the “Brain Development” team and Scientific Director of the Institut du Cerveau – ICM, received the Roger de Spoelberch 2019 prize for his project entitled “The Amyloid Precursor Protein in neuronal development, homeostasis and demise”. 

My lab is interested in asking fundamental questions about how the brain develops and maintains its health throughout life. We think neurodegenerative disease is actually caused by a failure of pro-health mechanisms, rather than the onset of toxic mechanisms. The Amyloid Precursors Protein is very well known and widely studied for its involvement in Alzheimer’s disease, but what it does in a normal brain is – surprisingly – still unclear. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that this protein, which is very conserved in evolution and expressed throughout the brain, may be part of what keeps the brain healthy throughout life. The project is about exploring how exactly this protein contributes to healthy brain development and ageing. The hope is that this knowledge will spur new discoveries so that physicians might one day be able to exploit normal health mechanisms to ameliorate the lives of people who suffer from brain disorders.” Bassem Hassan 

The aim of the Roger de Spoelberch Foundation is to encourage scientific and medical research to develop new ways of combating neurodegenerative diseases and certain psychiatric illnesses that seriously alter behavior such as schizophrenia. The Roger de Spoelberch Award represents significant financial support for the continuation of this project in Alzheimer’s disease to better understand the role of this protein in neuronal function. 

I am very grateful to the Roger De Spoelberch Foundation for supporting this line of research. It shows that the foundation is not afraid to believe and invest in new ideas, and we need more of that in science. I am also humbled by the prize which recognizes our past achievements. Some of the world’s most renowned neuroscientists have won this prize in the past and I feel very privileged to be among such esteemed colleagues. I am also very proud of Institut du Cerveau – ICM, because we are now the only institute which has had two winners of this prestigious prize, and that shows that Institut du Cerveau – ICM is a place for high quality brain research  

The award ceremony will take place on March 17 at 10 a.m. at the Brain and Spinal Cord Institute. 

More information on the Roger Spoelberch Foundation