Remembering John Q. Trojanowski, Founding AFTD Medical Advisory Council Member


On February 8, John Q. Trojanowski, MD, PhD, a founding member of the AFTD Medical Advisory Council (MAC), died at age 75. Dr. Trojanowski was a groundbreaking figure in the study of neurodegenerative diseases. He was a tremendous friend to AFTD and a powerful advocate for the community we serve.

A neuropathologist by training, Dr. Trojanowski made critical contributions to advancing understanding of the biological basis of neurodegenerative disorders, particularly Alzheimer’s and FTD. His work helped define the framework of FTD neuropathology used today.

In partnership with his wife and lifelong professional partner, Virginia M.-Y. Lee, PhD, Dr. Trojanowski and their team made discoveries that transformed the field of FTD research. Their 1991 discovery regarding the role of the protein tau in the tangles seen in Alzheimer’s disease represented a breakthrough for all tauopathies. Later, they identified the TDP43 protein as the primary pathology found in both ALS and about half of all people with FTD.

Dr. Trojanowski and Dr. Lee co-directed the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, where they oversaw research into Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, FTD, and other neurodegenerative diseases. Dr. Trojanowski was a respected mentor and guide to many of the next generation of FTD researchers.

In 2003, Dr. Trojanowski, along with more than a dozen other FTD-focused medical clinicians and researchers from around the country, became a founding member of the AFTD Medical Advisory Council, a crucial step in solidifying our organization’s and our community’s knowledge of FTD care and science.

“Along with his beloved wife Virginia and their Penn colleague, Dr. Murray Grossman, John was instrumental in establishing AFTD as the nation’s leading organization focused on FTD,” AFTD founder Helen-Ann Comstock said.

“John’s boundless, detailed knowledge of dementia, along with his unceasing compassion for those affected by FTD, guided AFTD’s mission for nearly 20 years,” she added. “I am forever thankful for John and his accomplishments.”

Dr. Trojanowski said he was motivated to become involved with AFTD because the organization “addressed huge unmet needs – the most important being patient care, education, and research that puts us on a solid course for discovering disease-modifying therapies.” He continued to serve on the Council until his death.

“As momentum builds in FTD research, we owe a great debt to Dr. Trojanowski,” said AFTD’s CEO, Susan L-J Dickinson, MSGC. “Even as many of us mourn his loss, we are grateful for his life’s work – and his outstanding contributions to FTD science.”

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