Rhoda Au Receives Melvin R. Goodes Prize for Excellence in Alzheimer’s Drug Development

headshot of Rhoda AuThe Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) presented Rhoda Au, PhD, MBA, professor of anatomy & neurobiology, with the 2023 Melvin R. Goodes Prize for Excellence in Alzheimer’s Drug Development for her pioneering work with digital biomarkers. The annual award honors prominent scientists who are recognized for their work transforming the Alzheimer’s clinical trial space and was presented at the Ninth Annual Melvin R. Goodes Prize Luncheon.

“Dr. Au’s research is a critical part of this pivotal moment in Alzheimer’s research,” says Howard Fillit, MD, Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer at the ADDF. “Now that we are beginning to see drugs emerge on the market, it is more important than ever to have corresponding biomarkers that can help us identify which patients will benefit from the right drugs at the right time.”

Au’s work, supported through the ADDF’s Diagnostics Accelerator, leverages technology from smartphones and tablets to collect data on Alzheimer’s-related characteristics, which can help to detect Alzheimer’s 20 to 30 years before symptoms present, paving the way for early diagnosis and intervention. Her work is part of the Diagnostics Accelerator’s larger strategy to fast-track the development of accessible and non-invasive tools to revolutionize Alzheimer’s diagnosis and treatment. Au is the first researcher with work focused on diagnostic technologies to receive the Goodes Prize.

The data collected by Au and her team is used to create digital profiles that can differentiate between people with stable cognition, cognitive decline, and dementia. Digital biomarkers like those being developed by Au will make it easier and more accessible to monitor for warning signs of dementia, enabling patients to be monitored in their own homes rather than having to commute to a physician’s office. These biomarkers combine cutting-edge technologies with the latest insights into the biology of aging.

The Goodes Prize, named for Melvin R. Goodes, a distinguished leader in the pharmaceutical industry, is awarded each year to an innovative researcher who has made a significant and lasting impact in the Alzheimer’s field. The prize includes $150,000 to further the awardee’s research.