The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) Celebrates Eleventh Annual Fall Luncheon And Symposium

Larry Leeds, ADDF’s 2020 Charles Evans Award Recipient. Photo: Sean Zanni/PMC

The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) hosted its 11th Annual Fall Luncheon and Symposium virtually on Friday, October 30, raising over $1.1 million for drug discovery research to prevent, treat and cure Alzheimer’s disease.

Hosted by nine-time Emmy Award winner, journalist and ADDF board member Paula Zahn, the virtual celebration honored Larry Leeds, philanthropist and former Chairman of Buckingham Capital Management, and awarded the Melvin R. Goodes Prize to Jerri M. Rook, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor at Vanderbilt University’s Warren Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery. ADDF Co-Founders and Co-Chairmen Leonard A. Lauder and Ronald S. Lauder participated in the event, which had over 300 attendees.

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Mr. Leeds, an esteemed member of the ADDF Board of Governors and advocate for Alzheimer’s research, received The Charles Evans Award for leadership in support of the prevention, treatment and cure of Alzheimer’s disease. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the award.

The 2020  Melvin R. Goodes Prize, an annual award given by the ADDF to leading researchers making important strides toward the development of effective treatments and a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, was awarded to Dr. Rook. The Goodes Prize was established in 2015 by Mel and Nancy Goodes, ADDF board members and longtime supporters.

Larry Leeds honored with The Charles Evans Award for leadership

Ronald Lauder shared his congratulations with Mr. Leeds. “For those of you who do not know Larry Leeds, he is a 91-year-old man who acts like a man 30 years younger. People like Larry have done so much to help the ADDF; he has really made a difference. Larry, thank you for allowing us to honor you. You’re a very special person.”

“I’m grateful to accept this award. The ADDF has been a champion for drug discovery, and I’m proud to support them. We may still have a long race ahead of us when it comes to curing Alzheimer’s, but I have hope in the ADDF’s mission to rapidly accelerate the discovery of drugs to prevent, treat and cure Alzheimer’s disease,” said Mr. Leeds

Iconic fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger was one of many who shared his support of Mr. Leeds during the event, praising his friend and mentor for his dedication to giving back.

Leonard Lauder also shared a message of hope, the underlying theme of the event: “More and more, researchers around the world saying they have something special. We invest in it and help bring it to market, and it has worked extraordinarily well. Thank you all for making this such an important event and helping bring us closer to prevention and a cure.”

Dr. Jerri M. Rook awarded the Melvin R. Goodes Prize for innovative research

The Goodes Prize includes a $150,000 award and will support Dr. Rook’s continued research focused on developing novel drugs that may improve cognitive function and have the potential to slow or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Her work on a separate drug recently led to a $10 million licensing agreement between Vanderbilt University and the biotechnology company Acadia Pharmaceuticals, with eligibility for potential milestone payments of up to $515 million and tiered royalties. The deal will help to further develop and hopefully commercialize the drug. The ADDF has supported her work since 2014, and Dr. Rook was also the recipient of the 2015 ADDF-Harrington Scholar Award.

As she accepted her award, Dr. Rook remarked, “I’m humbled to be included in such an esteemed group of Goodes Prize recipients. Thank you to the ADDF for this great honor and for your ongoing support of drug discovery. The bench-to-bedside journey is complicated and challenging, but new doors are opening for research and science as philanthropic groups like the ADDF become more involved in the process.”

Dr. Rook joined a remarkable panel of two other female scientists at the annual symposium. Moderated by the ADDF’s Chief Science Officer, Dr. Howard Fillit, Dr. Rook was joined by Dr. Susan Catalano of Cognition Therapeutics and Dr. Charlotte Teunissen of VUmc, in discussing new breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s research.

The Fall Luncheon and Symposium would not have been possible without the generous support of the Leeds Family Foundation, Melanie Goodes Caceres, Nancy and Melvin R. Goodes, Judy and Leonard Lauder, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, Susan and Tom Lowder, Michelle Goodes MacDonald, Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, Liz and Randal Sandler, and David R. Weinreb.

The ADDF also acknowledges Lilly for underwriting the Scientific Symposium portion of the event.

About the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation

Founded in 1998 by Leonard A. Lauder and Ronald S. Lauder, the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation is dedicated to rapidly accelerating the discovery of drugs to prevent, treat and cure Alzheimer’s disease. The ADDF is the only public charity solely focused on funding the development of drugs for Alzheimer’s, employing a venture philanthropy model to support research in academia and the biotech industry. Through the generosity of its donors, The ADDF has granted more than $150 million to fund over 626 programs for Alzheimer’s and related dementias in academic centers and biotechnology companies in 19 countries. To learn more, please visit http://www.alzdiscovery.org/.

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