Hebrew University emeritus Prof. Marta Weinstock-Rosin, developer of a drug to slow dementia caused by Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, will receive the Israel Prize for Medicine on Independence Day.

Weinstock-Rosin, of the HU School of Pharmacy-Institute for Drug Research in the Faculty of Medicine, is best known for developing the “blockbuster” drug named Exelon.

She was born in Vienna, Austria before the Holocaust, and after her father was arrested for being Jewish, the family decided to flee to England in 1939. Weinstock-Rosin received her bachelor’s and master’s degree in pharmacology at the University of London, followed by a doctorate in pharmacology at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School. She became a lecturer in pharmacology at the University of London, and in 1969, she came on aliya to Israel with her husband, Prof. Arnold Rosin, a leading gerontologist who was co-founder of the Melabev organization that helps victims of dementia and their families; he is an emeritus professor of gerontology at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center.

Together they have four children and 20 grandchildren.

Weinstock joined Tel Aviv University’s medical faculty, and from 1976-77 she took a research sabbatical at the US National Institutes of Health and received a grant its National Institute on Drug Abuse for her research on the mechanism of action of opiates. She became a professor at HU in 1981 and head of its 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, but it does not cure it. The drug is manufactured by the drug company Novartis, which acquired it from the HU’s technology transfer company, Yissum.

She is also the co-developer, with Prof. Moussa Youdim of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, of Ladostigil.

During its development, 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.

She has spent much of her professional career on the development of novel drugs for the treatment of chronic infectious and neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and multiple sclerosis), as well investigating morphine’s suppression of the breathing process (a major problem in its use as a painkiller), as well as the structural, neurochemical and behavioral effects of prenatal stress.

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