Professor’s ‘Game-changing’ Alzheimer’s Research a Major Beneficiary of $50 Million Grant

A new research institute led by Allen Distinguished Investigator and BioE Associate Professor Nikolai Slavov is the principal beneficiary of a $50 million grant from two investors, Schmidt Futures and Citadel, to develop new techniques for studying Alzheimer’s disease.

This article originally appeared on Northeastern Global News. It was published by Cynthia McCormick Hibbert. Main photo: Nikolai Slavov conducts research in the Mugar Life Sciences Building. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

A new research institute launched by a Northeastern professor researching Alzheimer’s disease is the principal beneficiary of a $50 million grant from two investors, Schmidt Futures and Citadel, that aims to support big breakthroughs in science.

“We think it’s going to be a game changer,” says Nikolai Slavov, Northeastern associate professor of bioengineering and founder and director of Parallel Squared Technology Institute (PTI) headquartered in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Scientists at PTI intend to use new techniques to significantly ramp up single-cell protein analysis of Alzheimer’s disease, which researchers suspect is caused by a buildup of abnormal proteins in and around brain cells.

“Professor Nikolai Slavov’s contributions to the field of Alzheimer’s research will break new ground in advancing our understanding and treatment of a disease that impacts millions of people around the world,” says Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University.

The work the institute is undertaking is built on technology Slavov developed at Northeastern. This technology platform will increase the scale of protein analysis by as much as a thousand-fold, which will significantly decrease the cost of Alzheimer’s research, Slavov says.

“It’s going to make this kind of analysis much more accessible, much more powerful,” he says, calling it a “Manhattan Project” for the poorly understood brain disorder that afflicts more than 55 million worldwide.

Often protein pathologies and disorders are studied by sequencing RNA, because that is the tool most readily available, Slavov says.

“It’s a bit like looking for keys under the lamp post, because that is where the light is, rather than where we are going to find things,” he says.

“We are trying to make a very powerful lamp post that can shine a light where people have not yet explored, where we think there is a lot to discover.”

Schmitt Futures is a philanthropic initiative of former Google CEO Eric Schmitt and Wendy Schmitt, while Citadel is a multinational hedge fund led by Ken Griffin as CEO. Together, they announced this week a $50 million commitment to Convergent Research, which will distribute the funds to PTI and to EvE Bio.

Read full story at Northeastern Global News

Related Faculty: Nikolai Slavov

Related Departments:Bioengineering