Einstein Remembers Leading Alzheimer’s Researcher
It is with deep sorrow that we note the passing of Peter Davies, Ph.D., world-renowned Alzheimer’s disease (AD) investigator and beloved colleague and mentor. Dr. Davies died on August 26, 2020, at age 72.
Dr. Davies came to Einstein in 1977, recruited by then chair of pathology Robert Terry, M.D., and he held a dual appointment as professor of neuroscience as well. His first paper, on the cholinergic system and Alzheimer’s disease (AD), was published in 1976. This early work revealing a deficiency of choline acetyltransferase in the cerebral cortex of patients with Alzheimer’s disease not only led to an explosion of research by neuroscientists on intracerebral cholinergic pathways, but was also foundational in the development of the currently approved cholinesterase inhibitor class of drugs for AD.
As an investigator, Dr. Davies was known for his vision, creativity, and passion. During his career, he published over 250 papers on tau, Alzheimer’s disease, and related disorders. His groundbreaking studies of tau pathology in Alzheimer’s disease—the production, characterization, and use of monoclonal antibodies to tau proteins, which are crucial for tissue diagnosis and neuropathologic studies of AD—made him a giant in the field. It was his belief and profound hope that the antibodies he produced would one day be used in the immune treatment of tau-based diseases, especially Alzheimer’s.
In addition to his work at the bench, Dr. Davies, was a major contributor to the training of future scientists. He was a beloved teacher to generations of Einstein graduate and medical students, post-doctoral fellows, and junior faculty.
Dr. Davies was principal investigator on numerous National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants dating back to 1979. He was consistently well-funded, receiving two MERIT awards from the NIH, and numerous other prestigious honors and awards -- among them, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Congress on Alzheimer’s Disease and, most recently, the Potamkin Prize for Research in Pick’s, Alzheimer’s, and Related Diseases.
In 2006, he joined the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research as the first scientific director of its Litwin-Zucker Center for the Study of Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders, now a division of Northwell Health. Over the years, he retained his appointment as clinical professor of pathology at Einstein, continuing to serve on student thesis defense committees.
“The scientific community has lost a brilliant colleague and leader in research on Alzheimer’s disease and tauopathies, and the world has lost a kind, compassionate and gracious human being who inspired all who were fortunate to know him,” said Michael Prystowsky, M.D., professor and chair of pathology at Einstein and Montefiore. “He will be greatly missed”.
Born in Wales in 1948, Dr. Davies received his Ph.D. from the University of Leeds and completed his postdoctoral training at the University of Edinburgh. He leaves his wife Barbara, their children and grandchildren, and his sisters Wendy and Sandra.
Editor's Note: If you would like to leave a remembrance of Dr. Davies, please visit our In Memoriam page
Posted on: Monday, October 05, 2020