Professor Maria Grazia Spillantini FMedSci FRS
Professor of Molecular Neurology, John Van Geest Centre for Brain Repair, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Cambridge
Maria Grazia Spillantini studies the molecular neuropathological features of neurodegenerative diseases and how they relate to disease pathogenesis. She was the first to identify alpha-synuclein as the major component of Lewy bodies and Lewy neuritis, the defining neuropathological features of Parkinson's disease and dementia with Lewy bodies. Her findings have opened up a new field, and these diseases are now often referred to as alpha-synucleinopathies. She identified one of the first mutations in the Tau gene as a cause for familial frontotemporal dementia, and has thus established that Tau dysfunction is sufficient to cause degeneration and dementia in diseases now known as tauopathies.