UCL Research Domains


UCL professor is first UK winner of $3m Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences


Professor John Hardy (UCL Institute of Neurology) was last night awarded the $3 million Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for his pioneering research into the genetic causes of Alzheimer's disease, other forms of dementia and Parkinson's disease.

The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences honours 'transformative advances toward understanding living systems and extending human life'. This is the first time that the prize has been awarded to a UK researcher, reflecting UCL's world-leading position in dementia research.

Professor John Hardy said: "It is a great honour to be awarded the prize for our work dissecting the causes of Alzheimer and Parkinson's diseases. It is, of course, our hope and aim that this understanding leads to effective treatments. At UCL with the Alzheimer's Research UK Drug Discovery Institute, the Leonard Wolfson Experimental Neurology Centre and the fantastic clinical team we have at the Institute of Neurology, I feel we can beat these diseases."

Professor Hardy has generously agreed to give £50,000 from the prize money to match donations towards the construction of the new Dementia Research Institute at UCL. The Institute will bring together researchers from across UCL and UCLH to lead national and international efforts to find effective treatments and improve the lives of those with dementia.

UCL President & Provost, Professor Michael Arthur, said: "John Hardy is a humble and hard-working scientist, so I am delighted that his pioneering work into the genetics of Alzheimer's has been recognised by the award of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. I would like to thank John for his commitment to contribute generously towards the new Dementia Research Institute at UCL, which aims to find effective treatments and improve the lives of those with dementia. This exemplifies the tireless dedication that John has always shown to his work at the UCL Institute of Neurology and I am extremely proud of what he has achieved and continues to achieve."

Using innovative genetic analysis methods, Professor Hardy has made major contributions to the study of almost all major neurodegenerative diseases. He has published over 850 scientific papers, many of which are focused on neurological disorders and more specifically the genetics of Alzheimer's disease. His research has underpinned nearly all basic science and treatment research into Alzheimer's disease over the last 20 years.

Professor Alan Thompson, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences, says: "This exciting and extremely prestigious prize recognises Professor John Hardy's pivotal role in advancing our understanding in a number of major, disabling neurodegenerative diseases, in particular Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. The discoveries made by John and his team laid the foundations for much of the broad base of dementia research that takes place at UCL today. It is therefore fitting that his generous donation will help us to build the new Dementia Research Institute at UCL to further coordinate our efforts to tackle this dreadful condition."