The Oskar Fischer Story

Over a century has passed since Oskar Fischer published his landmark paper in 1907 describing neuritic plaque accompanied with drawings of the plaque. Alzheimer’s research has fared little better than Oskar Fischer who was a Jew working at Charles University, neuropathological school, in Prague. In 1939, he was removed from his post at the Charles University. Later in 1941, he was sent to Theresienstadt in Terezín, a way station for Auschwitz and Treblinka. Like many other victims of the holocaust, he didn’t survive under the harsh conditions of the concentration camp. He died in 1942.

Oskar Fischer published on 12 patients with plaques and tangles in 1907, the same year that Alzheimer published on one patient with early onset Alzheimer’s. A century has passed since Oskar Fischer’s seminal work. Tens of billions have been spent on research and potential cures. Over 130,000 research papers have been published, and yet no definitive explanation and cure for Alzheimer’s has been found. The Oskar Fischer Project is a comprehensive systems-based approach to explain the changes of Alzheimer’s. Integration of the numerous abnormalities into an explanation builds on the groundbreaking work Oskar Fischer started over a century ago, with the goal of helping scientists identify therapeutic targets to benefit patients.


Fischer O. Miliare Nekrosen mit drusigen Wucherungen der Neurofibrillen, eien regelmässige Veränderung der Hirnrinde bei seniler Demenz. Monatsschr Psychiat Neruol 1907; 22: 361-72

Alzheimer A. Über eine eigenartige Erkrankung der Hirnrinde. Allg Z Psychiat 1907; 64: 146-8

Berchtold, N. C.; C. W. Cotman (1998). "Evolution in the Conceptualization of Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease: Greco-Roman Period to the 1960s" (PDF). Neurobiology of Aging. 19 (3): 173–189. doi:10.1016/S0197-4580(98)00052-9. PMID 9661992. Retrieved 4 September 2012.

Goedert, Michel (2009). "Oskar Fischer and the study of dementia"(Occasional Papers). Brain. 132 (4): 1102–1111. doi:10.1093/brain/awn256. PMC 2668940. PMID 18952676. Retrieved 3 September 2012.

The Oskar Fischer Project

According to the World Alzheimer Report 2018 by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), an estimated 50 million people worldwide are living with dementia at a cost of $1 trillion to the global economy. That population is expected to more than triple by the year 2050.

To expand the understanding and explanation of Alzheimer’s disease, United States businessman James Truchard has given a $5 million USD gift to The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) College of Sciences to establish the Oskar Fischer Project. The initiative will engage the world’s brightest minds in a comprehensive literature review with the goal of synthesizing that information into one simple explanation for the cause of Alzheimer’s disease, taking a new systems approach to the research on Alzheimer’s, building on the work Oskar Fischer started over a century ago.

The challenge will award up to $4 million USD in Oskar Fischer Prizes, including a grand prize of $2 million, two second place prizes of $500,000 each and four third place prizes of $250,000 each. Collectively, the monetary awards are the world’s largest prizes of their kind.

The call for proposals will open in February 2019 and will continue through the two-year term of the project. UTSA will work closely with an interdisciplinary committee of outstanding scientists from Texas to award the Oskar Fischer Prizes.

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The Dr. James Truchard Story

Named an Innovation Agent by Fast Company, James Truchard, president and CEO, co-founded National Instruments in 1976 and has pioneered the way scientists and engineers solve the world’s grand engineering challenges.

As one of Forbes’ America’s Favorite Bosses, Dr. James Truchard, commonly known around NI as Dr. T, has led the company from a three-man team to a multinational organization recognized as a Fortune 100 Best Places to Work and one of the top 25 World’s Best Multinational Workplaces by the Great Places to Work Institute.

Under Truchard’s leadership, the company’s long-term vision, known as the 100 year plan, and focus on improving the world by providing tools that accelerate productivity, innovation and discovery, has led to strong, consistent company growth and success of its broad base of customers, employees, suppliers and shareholders.

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The UTSA Brain Health Consortium

The UTSA Brain Health Consortium (BHC) is a collaborative, multidisciplinary team of researchers committed to discovering the inner workings of the brain with the common goal of applying those discoveries to prevent and treat neurological disorders. Together, we specialize in neuroscience, regenerative medicine, medicinal chemistry, biomedical engineering and data analytics combine their talents to advance the understanding of the brain.

What We Do

  • Answer fundamental questions regarding the mechanisms of brain health and disease
  • Use cutting-edge technologies, identifying strategies to restore and improve brain function
  • Educate and train the next generation of scientists, propelling them into a career of novel scientific and human therapeutic discovery

Our Facilities

Brain Health Consortium researchers have access to subsidized use of UTSA’s research cores. They include:

  • Stem Cell
  • Behavior
  • Genomics
  • Cell Analysis
  • RCMI Biophotonics
  • RCMI Computational Systems Biology
  • RCMI Nanotechnology & Human Health
  • RCMI Proteomics & Protein Biomarkers
Our Research

The BHC advances multidisciplinary research with the goal of understanding developmental, functional, and regenerative processes of the brain, modeling and studying neurological disorders and developing novel personalized therapeutics.

Our Brain Health Research Centers

  • UTSA Neurosciences Institute
  • South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases
  • Center for Innovative Drug Discovery
  • Institute for Health Disparities Research
  • UTSA Regenerative Medicine Institute (in development)

Our Members

BHC investigators span the UTSA Colleges of Engineering, Liberal and Fine Arts, and Sciences.

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As Director of the UTSA Brain Health Consortium, Jenny Hsieh is a nationally recognized researcher leading UTSA’s efforts in brain health research.

George Perry is the Chief Scientist of the UTSA Brain Health Consortium and an internationally recognized Alzheimer’s disease researcher.

UTSA researchers in neuroscience, regenerative medicine, medicinal chemistry, biomedical engineering and data analytics collaborate to advance the understanding of the brain.