Israel Prize in Medicine awarded to developer of Alzheimer's drug

Prof. Weinstock-Rosin, photo by Nati Shohat / Flash 90

March 5, 2014: Israel’s Minister of Education Shai Piron has announced that the Israel Prize for Medicine will be awarded to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Prof. Marta Weinstock-Rosin. A professor emeritus at the Hebrew University’sSchool of Pharmacy-Institute for Drug Research in the Faculty of Medicine, Weinstock-Rosin is best known for developing Exelon, a blockbuster drug for the treatment of confusion and dementia related to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Weinstock-Rosin is married with four children and 20 grandchildren. She became a professor at the Hebrew University in 1981 and served as head of the School of Pharmacy in 1983. Her current research is focused on drugs that improve brain function and memory in patients with degenerative diseases of the central nervous system.

Exelon been shown to be an effective medicine for treating the symptoms of mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. It is manufactured by the drug company Novartis, which acquired it from the Hebrew University’s Yissum technology transfer company. Prof. Weinstock-Rosin is also the co-developer, with Prof. Moussa Youdim of the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, of Ladostigil. During its development Prof Weinstock-Rosin discovered that at low doses, Ladostigil prevents brain degeneration and memory impairment in aged rats. The drug is now undergoing Phase II clinical trials in Israel and Europe for the prevention of Alzheimer's disease.

Born in Vienna in 1935, Weinstock-Rosin obtained her BPharm and MSc in pharmacology at the University of London, followed by a PhD in pharmacology at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School. She became a lecturer in pharmacology at the University of London, and in 1969 moved to Israel with her husband and children and joined Tel Aviv University’s medical faculty. From 1976-77 she took a research sabbatical at the US National Institutes of Health and received a grant from the NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse for her research on the mechanism of action of opiates.