For most of its known history, Alzheimer’s disease has been a widely misunderstood and overlooked disease. But there have been a few notable exceptions.
Imagine you’re a doctor. Into your clinic walks a 40-year-old man who no longer remembers how to do a job he’s done every day since he was 18. Or a mother of eight who can’t figure out how to diaper her baby and keeps forgetting to pick up her older kids from kindergarten. Would you suspect you were looking at Alzheimer’s disease?
From turn-of-the-century Germany to 1960s France, from the dangerous countryside of Colombia to the oil fields of North Dakota, doctors were faced with this perplexing medical mystery. Some battled extremely long odds to move the science forward, inch by inch, in a disease that received little attention and even less funding.
Today, as we stare down a looming global pandemic, these are the minds whose work could lead us to the solution.