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Cambridge professor recognised for more than 30 years of ground-breaking research into Alzheimer's disease

A world-renowned researcher has won the 2017 Ryman Prize in recognition of his more than 30 years of ground-breaking contribution to research into neuro-degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s Disease.

Professor Peter St George-Hyslop splits his time between research labs at the Universities of Cambridge and Toronto in Canada.

His research work has focused on discovering the key genes and proteins that cause cells to degenerate in diseases such as early onset Alzheimer’s Disease.

His work has also helped researchers better understand other neuro-degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's, motor neuron disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob (mad cow) disease.

He will be presented with the prize by the Right Honourable Bill English, Prime Minister of New Zealand, at a special presentation in Wellington on Wednesday, 9 August.

Ryman Prize juror Dr Naoko Muramatsu said Professor St George-Hyslop’s research had led to a much better understanding of neuro-degenerative diseases.

“Since the mid-1980s he has carried out pioneering research in a field which was little understood. Millions of people around the world have Alzheimer’s and Peter’s research has had a profound influence on its understanding, and the ability to diagnose and treat it. He thoroughly deserves this award for his many decades of commitment to scientific discovery, teaching, and sheer hard work.’’

“He has also been a prolific research author, and his 390 published scientific papers have been cited by other researchers more than 33,000 times. This means that his discoveries have been widely disseminated to form the basis of other research and discoveries.’’

Professor St George-Hyslop said he was chuffed to win.

“The prize came as a complete surprise - but one that is exceptionally exciting for two reasons. At a personal level, it is obviously thrilling to have one’s professional work and the work of one's colleagues publicly recognised. However, there is a much larger importance to this prize. It signifies a sea-change in how society perceives disorders affecting the health and well-being of their older members. It signals a growing understanding of the urgency of getting to grips with these increasingly common, devastating conditions that impact not only those individuals affected by them, but also their family and their caregivers, and the state in which they live.’’

The Ryman Prize is a $250,000 international prize that rewards the best work in the world that has enhanced quality of life for older people. It is the world’s richest prize of its type and was established to create the equivalent of a Nobel Prize for people working in the field of the health of older people.

Date awarded

09 August 2017

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Professor Peter St George-Hyslop (second from left) with researchers from his lab in Cambridge