Robert Vassar, PhD

Northwestern University

Robert Vassar, PhD, is the Davee Professor of Alzheimer Research, Departments of Neurology and Cell and Developmental Biology at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. He is Scientific Director of the Division of Behavioral Neurology and Director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center (P30). Dr. Vassar received his PhD in in 1992 in Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology in the lab of Dr. Elaine Fuchs at the University of Chicago studying transgenic mouse models of human epidermal disease. He did his postdoctoral fellowship in the lab of Dr. Richard Axel at Columbia University, New York, where he investigated the molecular neurobiology of olfaction. After his postdoc, he joined the biotechnology company Amgen to start a research group to identify novel drug targets for AD. Using an expression cloning approach, he and his team co-discovered the beta-secretase enzyme, beta-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme-1 (BACE1) that is essential for generating the Abeta peptide in amyloid plaques. In 2001, Dr. Vassar moved to Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. There, he made the 5XFAD transgenic mouse model of amyloid pathology. He continues to explore the molecular and cellular mechanisms of AD, with a focus on genetic mouse models.

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