Newswise — An era of Alzheimer’s disease research has come to a close with the passing of Robert D. Terry in Carlsbad, California. In the early 1960s, when scientific interest in Alzheimer’s was sparse in the U.S., Terry jump-started the field with neuropathological and biochemical studies on both amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Terry assembled an interdisciplinary group in the Bronx that became an international powerhouse of AD research in the ’60s and ’70s. (New York’s MOMA even exhibited his electron microscopy.) In 1984, he moved to one of the first five AD Research Centers set up by the NIA, at the University of California, San Diego, and there worked out how to measure neuronal loss in Alzheimer’s. Terry was among the first to realize that the loss of connections between those cells led to cognitive decline.

Terry was both beloved and tough. He parachuted into the Battle of the Bulge after enlisting in WWII at age 19; stared down mafia guards; vigorously argued his opinions in public; and was a friend of British neurologist and popular writer Oliver Sacks, who spent a season working in Terry’s lab. Read Alzforum’s obituary to learn more about the life and work of this titan in the field.


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