The Rainwater Charitable Foundation, CurePSP and Aging Mind Foundation Announce $2 Million in Grants to Fund Innovative Research Projects from the Tauopathy Challenge Workshop

Jul 10, 2024

FORT WORTH, Texas, July 10 /PRNewswire/ -- The Rainwater Charitable Foundation (RCF), one of the largest independent funders of primary tauopathy research, enabling field-advancing programs and delivering crucial resources to a diverse set of collaborative researchers, in partnership with CurePSP and Aging Mind Foundation (AMF) announced today $2 million in grants to fund four innovative research projects over the course of two years stemming from the Tauopathy Challenge Workshop. The inaugural Tauopathy Challenge Workshop, held in Chicago, assembled neuroscience researchers from prominent institutions around the globe with the intent of closing gaps in understanding of the mechanisms of tau pathology and addressing challenges in primary tauopathy research, with a focus on Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) and Frontotemporal Dementias (FTDs).

PSP and FTDs are part of a class of debilitating neurodegenerative diseases that may shorten a person’s lifespan, and for which no current treatments exist. The four groundbreaking research projects, led by five esteemed scientists, funded through the Tauopathy Challenge Workshop, will serve as building blocks toward ongoing efforts to find treatments and a cure for these diseases, known as primary tauopathies:

  • Kathryn Bowles, PhD, UK Dementia Research Institute at the University of Edinburgh (Awarded $500,000): Research focuses on understanding how build-up of tau affects astrocytes, one of the main cell types in the brain, and the role of astrocytes in the development and progression of PSP. Specifically, Dr. Bowles will investigate how astrocytes behave when they have a build-up of tau, and subsequently, how aggregated tau in astrocytes contributes to making neurons sick. This has not been previously studied.
  • Yongku Cho, PhD, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Connecticut, and co-PI Jesse Rinehart, PhD, Department of Cellular & Molecular Physiology at the Yale University School of Medicine with a joint appointment in the Systems Biology Institute (Awarded $500,000): Research focuses on studying post-translational modifications (chemical changes of proteins) found in tau protein aggregates of PSP and FTD patients to determine if these post-translational modifications may cause the tau protein to become more aggregation-prone and gain toxicity. This has not been conclusively tested previously.
  • Rik van der Kant, PhD, Alzheimer Center Amsterdam University Medical Center and Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research (CNCR) at VU University Amsterdam (Awarded $500,000): Research focuses on examining if cholesterol, or other lipids, contribute to the tau pathology in PSP and FTD, knowing that recent studies have shown that excess levels of cholesterol in the brain can drive the build-up of tau. Dr. van der Kant will map how lipid metabolism in different brain cell types is altered in these diseases, and how this might contribute to neuroinflammation. The project will help provide a better understanding of the early processes that drive PSP and FTDs.
  • Patrik Verstreken, PhD, VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research (Awarded $500,000): Research focuses on understanding how tau is linked to synaptic loss and finding solutions to counteract this to halt cognitive decline in disease. Some hibernating animals, such as hamsters, experience similar tau-related synapse loss, but this is temporary and reverses when these animals awake from hibernation. Dr. Verstreken plans to investigate the unique process of synapse restoration when hamsters wake from hibernation in an attempt to use this knowledge to combat the tau-induced synaptic decline seen in dementia.

“The prevalence of neurodegenerative diseases, like primary tauopathies, is expected to increase in the coming years, which is why it is so important that we make concerted efforts towards fostering and funding the work of innovative researchers who may lay the scientific foundation for treatments of the future,” said Jeremy Smith, President of The Rainwater Charitable Foundation. “We are incredibly grateful to the Aging Mind Foundation and CurePSP for partnering with us to bring the vision of the Tauopathy Challenge Workshop to life and we are thrilled to see how the research of Drs. Bowles, Cho, Reinhart, van der Kant and Verstreken progresses over the coming years.”

The Tauopathy Challenge Workshop is open to all researchers through a letter of intent process, with applications for the 2025 workshop, focused on co-pathologies, currently being accepted through August 15. The Tauopathy Challenge Workshop convenes interdisciplinary experts around a single topic of focus in tauopathies. Participants are compensated for their time at an off-site meeting where research ideas are incubated, and collaboration is encouraged. Post-workshop, participants can apply for research grants from the Rainwater Charitable Foundation.

About The Rainwater Charitable Foundation's Medical Research

The Rainwater Charitable Foundation (RCF) was created in the early 1990s by renowned private equity investor and philanthropist Richard E. Rainwater. When Richard was diagnosed with a rare neurodegenerative disease and primary tauopathy called Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), the RCF expanded its mission to accelerate the development of new diagnostics and treatments for tau-related neurodegenerative disorders. The RCF Medical Research Team supports this focus by managing the Tau Consortium, the Rainwater Prize Program and the Tauopathy Challenge Workshop. With over $140 million invested in medical research to date, the RCF has helped to advance eight treatments into human trials. Currently the RCF supports a range of programs, including a focus on family economic security, medical research and other worthy causes. For more information, please visit

About Aging Mind Foundation

Since 2013, the Aging Mind Foundation (AMF) has been dedicated to funding medical research aimed at uncovering the causes of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. Founded by Laree Hulshoff and Bill Booziotis, who were motivated by personal experiences with friends suffering from Alzheimer's, AMF strives to alleviate the impact of this devastating disease on individuals and their families. By raising funds to provide substantial grants to medical scientists, AMF supports groundbreaking research into Alzheimer's and dementia. The Aging Mind Foundation operates as a component fund of The Dallas Foundation, a 501(c)(3) publicly supported charity. For more information, please call 214.218.2050 or visit

About CurePSP

CurePSP is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to the awareness, care and cure for three neurodegenerative diseases: progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), corticobasal degeneration (CBD) and multiple system atrophy (MSA). As a catalyst for new treatments and a cure, CurePSP establishes important partnerships and funds critical research internationally. Through its advocacy and support efforts, CurePSP enhances education, care delivery and quality of life for people living with PSP, CBD and MSA and their families. Science, community and hope are at the heart of CurePSP’s mission and all its services. CurePSP is a registered 501(c)(3) charity within the United States (EIN: 52-1704978). For more information, please visit

Corporate Contact:

Jordan Brainerd

The Rainwater Charitable Foundation

(817) 820-2708

Media Contact:

Kerry Sinclair

Spectrum Science

(202) 587-1507