Vice-Chair of Neurology and Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, and serves as the Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. and Director of Neurology.
Dr. Tanzi received his B.S. (microbiology) and B.A. (history) at the University of Rochester in 1980 and his Ph.D. (neurobiology) at Harvard Medical School in 1990. In his research achievements, Dr. Tanzi served on the team that was the first to find a disease gene (Huntington’s disease) using human genetic markers, helping to launch the field of neurogenetics.
Dr. Tanzi co-discovered all three early-onset familial Alzheimer’s disease genes and identified several others as leader of the Alzheimer’s Genome Project supported by the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, for which Dr. Tanzi also serves as Chair of the Research Consortium. He also discovered the Wilson’s disease gene and several other neurological disease genes. He and his team used Alzheimer’s genes and human stem cells to create “Alzheimer’s-in-a-Dish”. This is a three-dimensional human stem cell-derived neural culture system that is considered to be the first true model of Alzheimer’s disease, recapitulating both pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease: plaques and tangles. This model has made drug screening for Alzheimer’s disease considerably faster and more effective versus animal models. Dr. Tanzi has developed novel therapies for AD including gamma secretase modulators and metal chaperones aimed at lowering plaque and tangle pathology. Dr. Tanzi is also very active in the areas of integrative medicine and applications to brain health quantifying the effects of lifestyle interventions on neuroplasticity and epigenetics. Most recently, Dr. Tanzi and his team have discovered that beta-amyloid, the main component of senile plaques, may play a role in the innate immune system of the brain operating as an anti-microbial peptide, suggesting a possible role for infection in the etiology and pathogenesis of AD.
Dr. Tanzi has published over 500 research papers and has received the highest awards in his field, including the Metropolitan Life Foundation Award, Potamkin Prize, Ronald Reagan Award, Silver Innovator Award, and many others. He was named to TIME magazine’s list of TIME100 Most Influential People in the World (2015), and received the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award, the top national award for invention and innovation. He co-authored the popular trade books “Decoding Darkness”, New York Times bestseller, “Super Brain”, and international bestseller “Super Genes”.