Dr. Ghetti has spent the past 40 years studying the pathology, biochemical and molecular mechanisms of dementias. A Distinguished Professor and Chancellor’s Professor at Indiana University, Dr. Ghetti is director of the Indiana Alzheimer Disease Center at the IU School of Medicine and director of the division of neuropathology. A professor of pathology, psychiatry, medical and molecular genetics, and neurology, he has been on the IU faculty since 1976.
Dr. Ghetti and his colleagues have contributed to the understanding of how certain genes and mutations in them can lead to various types of dementia, including those types that manifest early in the adult life. Since the discovery of a mutation in the APP gene in 1991, Dr. Ghetti and his colleagues have investigated numerous familial forms of Alzheimer’s disease and clarified the nature of the amyloid protein that accumulates in plaques in the brain.
Between 1993 and 1998, he led an international research team that identified a new form of autosomal dominant of frontotemporal dementia, called multiple system tauopathy with presenile dementia. This dementia first appears in individuals in their 40s and 50s and is both pathologically and clinically different from Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Ghetti’s work also has produced seminal research on the protein that makes the neurofibrillary tangles believed to be a cause for the onset of many dementias.
For the past 20 years, Dr. Ghetti has made significant contributions to the understanding of Gerstmann-Straeussler-Scheinker disease, a prion disease that is chronic and leads to dementia.
Dr. Ghetti received his medical degree at the University of Pisa, Italy, and completed postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Pisa and Naples, Italy, and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.
In 1999, Dr. Ghetti was awarded the Potamkin Prize for Research in Alzheimer and Pick Disease by the American Academy of Neurology for his work in the discovery and identification of prefrontal lobe dementias. In 2005, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Siena, Italy, and he is currently in the second year of a four-year term as president of the International Society of Neuropathology.
The Wisniewski life-time achievement award is particularly significant to Dr. Ghetti, since Dr. Wisniewski was a mentor to Dr. Ghetti when he was a graduate fellow at Albert Einstein College.