The Alzheimer’s Association has selected Susan Bookheimer, who holds the Joaquin M. Fuster Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, to be a 2020 Zenith Award recipient. 

As a Zenith fellow, Bookheimer will receive a research grant of up to $450,000 over three years to study the use of ultrasound to treat memory loss in participants with mild cognitive impairment, which is often a precursor to Alzheimer’s-related dementia.

Bookheimer, who is also director of the UCLA Intellect and Developmental Disabilities Research Center at the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, is one of three recipients of the 2020 research grants, which support senior scientists pursuing novel ideas to discover new and better methods of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

“The Zenith Award is a great honor,” Bookheimer said. “It’s one of those rare awards given to senior scientists with long-time careers. And to be recognized for your work at a national level is wonderful.”

Specifically, Bookheimer’s research will use low-intensity focused ultrasound pulsation — a technology developed at UCLA by professor emeritus, Dr. Alexander Bystritsky — to stimulate and increase brain activity in the entorhinal cortex, which, along with the hippocampus, is one of the first areas of the brain damaged by Alzheimer’s disease.

“Everything that goes into our memory center goes through the entorhinal cortex,” Bookheimer said. “We believe that targeting the brain early is the way to keep these brain centers active.”