James Truchard, the former CEO and Chairman of National Instruments has donated funds for a prize to scientists who can review the existing medical literature to come up with a theory on what causes Alzheimer's.
Truchard points out that there have been 130,000 scientific papers on Alzheimer's but that each paper focuses only on a narrow aspect of the disease and brain science. He wants someone to comb through all of the literature and find a unifying "big picture" explanation.
“Just like someone like Einstein did in creating the theory of general relativity or Darwin did in looking at evolution,” he explained to a Texas newspaper. “We’re hoping we can find some genius, someone that can do like Einstein did, and come up with the right answer."
A businessman accustomed to taking a practical approach, Truchard laments the fact that journal editors encourage such narrow publications. "We’ve made no progress in the last 111 years. We need to move the needle, and I’m hoping to find somebody who can give us a better starting point in understanding Alzheimer’s.”
The contest will be administered by the University of Texas at San Antonio, and the contest has been named The Oskar Fischer Project after the neuropathologist who first published a paper in 1907 describing neuritic plaque. Fisher described the plaques in greater detail than Alzheimer, but did not receive recognition for his work due to rampant anti-semitism at the time. He was eventually removed to a concentration camp where he died in 1942.
In addition to the $2 million grant prize, there will be two second place prizes of $500,000 each and four third place prizes of $250,000 each.
For more details, see the Oskar Fischer Project web site.