Bess Frost, Ph.D., assistant professor of cell systems and anatomy and member of the Sam and Ann Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies at UT Health San Antonio, is the recipient of the Academy of Medicine Engineering and Science of Texas 2020 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Medicine.
Dr. Frost, also a faculty investigator with the university’s Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative diseases, was honored for her work in Alzheimer’s research.
Instead of focusing on how to cure the disease, as is the focus of most Alzheimer’s research, Dr. Frost’s team looked at what causes the disease—a buildup of tau proteins inside of cells and amyloid plaques outside of it, which disrupts and eventually kills brain cell function. In doing so, her team was able to identify targets that can mitigate the spread of toxic proteins in the brain.
“By the time someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, negative tau protein has been building up in their brain for decades. However, Dr. Frost’s novel approach seeks to intervene at the earliest stages of the disease and prevent memory loss and other cognitive functions before they occur,” said William L. Henrich, M.D., president and professor of medicine at UT Health San Antonio. “Dr. Frost is an exceptional leader with an endless inquisitive mind. What she has accomplished thus far has enlightened the field and will continue to do so.”
TAMEST Board President Amelie G. Ramirez, Dr.P.H., said the O’Donnell awards highlight the groundbreaking research taking place in Texas.
“We are honored to present Dr. Frost with the 2020 O’Donnell Award in Medicine for changing the way we look at how Alzheimer’s disease effects the brain,” said Dr. Ramirez, chair of the Department of Population Health Sciences at UT Health San Antonio. “The United States has an estimated 5.5 million people living with Alzheimer’s disease, and Dr. Frost’s research hopes to transform medication and therapy for the disease as we know it, to one day prevent the onset of memory loss for Alzheimer’s patients around the world.”
Dr. Frost and other recipients will be honored during the O’Donnell Awards dinner and reception on Jan. 8 at the TAMEST 2020 Conference in Dallas.