Dr. Boyd works at the Ann Romney Center for Neurological Disorders and Harvard University. He was a recipient of a $100,000 gift to fund his research following the Fifty Plus Racing Foundation's Endure for a Cure Benefit Dinner in November.
He was recently in conversation with Mike Roberts, Chief Operating Officer of Grace Healthcare who has launched a campaign within his company to raise money to fight Alzheimer's Disease.
Justin: Mike, I genuinely appreciate you inviting me to join this call, especially in lieu of this successful Fifty Plus Racing Foundation benefit. I’ve participated in many benefits, and this one was very special.
Everyone in the audience was no more than one degree away from the Alzheimer’s disease. It galvanized us in a way we could relate to each other. It was also emotional...incredibility emotional. People in very high leadership positions like Senator Corker exposed themselves as ones who had been impacted by Alzheimer’s disease. That allowed each of us to connect. By the time I spoke about the research – people’s hearts were already opened.
After the benefit, I was given the opportunity to start my own lab in the heart of one of strongest groups in the world in Alzheimer’s research. The money that was raised has been put to very good use. It’s helped me set up this new lab. Moving equipment is not cheap. $10k has gone towards setting up the new lab.
To put things in perspective I moved some $700,000 worth of specialized equipment. Today, my lab offers a platform that can contribute to AD drug discovery with this prestigious group of researchers at the Ann Romney Center for Neurological Diseases. I took with me two discreet projects, and in less than a month I’m up to five projects. Three of the five are focused on Alzheimer’s disease therapeutic discovery.
My lab is focused on human cells, as these cells provide us a more transitional approach (closer to real human biology than more conventional animal models). We begin by taking cells from people who have the disease and study the biological responses of these cells in disease-like conditions. We then ask questions like “can we identify conditions that can improve their outcome.” The focus is on people with the disease and examining drugs and drug like molecules as potential modifiers of disease processes. All the while, I am fund raising to be able to continue this work.
I promise that my lab will continue to communicate what we are doing. People are hungry for information. And I want to be able to convey to Grace Healthcare and the community at large exactly what I am doing. I want to help you understand the process.
Working with Fifty Plus Racing and Grace Healthcare has enabled me to become more effective at delivering a message, and I will continue to present the latest information we have to help people feel like participants in the process. People respond well to that. It gives them access to discoveries very few people in the world have.
What we hear in mainstream reports is that we (Alzheimer’s drug discovery scientists) are failing, but I want to challenge that mindset. What’s getting talked about today represents the science of ten years ago. There is a lag in the information available – so I want to be an optimistic voice among the pessimistic voices out there. I want to communicate the rapid changes happening now.
Today, we understand the risk factors better and are developing therapeutic approaches to address “risk”. Furthermore, we have a clearer picture of the molecular pathways involved as the disease progresses. These two factors contribute to a much better understanding of Alzheimer’s disease than ten years ago.
Finally, we have the technology to perform the experiments and develop the models that we couldn’t a decade ago. Therefore, I expect the next several years of therapeutic discovery to make more progress towards treating and curing the disease than all progress to date.
Note: Fifty Plus Racing Foundation held a benefit in Chattanooga on November 21, 2015 where they awarded $100,000 to Justin's research through the Foundation for Neurological Diseases. If you would like to contribute to our cause – to find a cure – you can make a donation through Pay Pal.