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N. Bud Grossman Center for Memory Research and Care, University of Minnesota

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Photograph Karen H. Ashe

Karen H. Ashe, MD, PhD

Professor, Department of Neurology
Founding Director of the N. Bud Grossman Center for Memory Research and Care
Edmund Wallace and Anne Marie Tulloch Chairs in Neurology and Neuroscience

Dr. Karen Ashe was raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota, received an A.B. in chemistry and physics from Harvard University in 1975, a Ph.D. in brain and cognitive sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981, and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1982. After completing a medical internship and neurology residency at the University of California, San Francisco, she conducted postdoctoral research on prions under the guidance of nobel laureate, Dr. Stanley Prusiner.

She joined the Neurology Department at the University of Minnesota in 1992 and the Minneapolis VA Health Care System’s Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center in 2002. She holds the Edmund Wallace and Anne Marie Tulloch Chairs in Neurology and Neuroscience, and directs the N. Bud Grossman Center for Memory Research and Care at the University of Minnesota.

Using transgenic mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Ashe’s research focuses on the mechanisms by which the tau and Aβ* proteins disrupt brain function. Dr. Ashe’s recent discoveries include the memory-impairing Aβ*56 protein assembly and proof that neurofibrillary tangles do not cause irreversible memory loss. She has received numerous honors for her contributions, including the Potamkin Prize from the American Academy of Neurology, the MetLife Foundation Award for Medical Research, and induction into the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of the United States of America.

Selected Publications

Ashe, K.H. and Zahs, K.R.: Probing the biology of Alzheimer’s disease in mice. Neuron 66:631-45, 2010.

Zahs, K.R. and Ashe, K.H.: “Too much good news!”: Are Alzheimer mouse models trying to tell us how to prevent, not cure, Alzheimer’s disease? Trends in Neurosciences 33: 381-389, 2010.

Lesné, S., Kotilinek, K., Ashe, K.H.: Plaque-bearing mice with reduced levels of oligomeric amyloid-β assemblies have intact memory function. Neuroscience 151:745-749, 2008.

Kotilinek, L.A., Westerman, M.A., Wang, Q., Panizzon, K., Lim, G.P., Simonyi, A. Lesné, S., Falinska, A., Younkin, L.H., Younkin, S.G., Rowan, M., Cleary, J., Wallis, R.A., Sun, G.Y., Cole, G., Frautschy, S., Anwyl, R., Ashe, K.H.: Cyclooxygenase-2 inhibition improves amyloid-β mediated suppression of memory and synaptic plasticity. Brain 131:651-664, 2008.

Ma, H., Lesné, S., Kotilinek, L., Steidl-Nichols, J.V., Sherman, M., Younkin, L.., Younkin, S., Forster, C., Sergeant, N., Delacourte, A., Vassar, R., Citron, M., Kofuji, P., Boland, L., Ashe, K.H.: Involvement of BACE1 in amyloid precursor protein-mediated enhancement of memory and activity-dependent synaptic plasticity. Proc Natl Acad Sci (USA) 104:8167-8172, 2007.

Lesné, S., Koh, M.T., Kotilinek, L., Kayed, R., Glabe, C.G., Yang, A., Gallagher, M., Ashe, K.H.: A specific amyloid-β protein assembly in the brain impairs memory. Nature 440:352-357, 2006.

SantaCruz, K., Lewis, J., Spires, T., Paulson, J., Kotilinek, L., Ingelsson, M., Guimaraes, A., DeTure, M., Ramsden, M., McGowan, E., Forster, C., Yue, M., Orne, J., Janus, C., Mariash, A., Kuskowski, M., Hyman, B., Hutton, M., Ashe, K.H.: Tau suppression in a neurodegenerative mouse model improves memory function. Science 309:476-81, 2005.

Ramsden, M., Kotilinek, L., Forster, C., Paulson, J., McGowan, E., SantaCruz, K., Guimaraes, A., Yue, M., Lewis, J., Carlson, G., Hutton, M., Ashe, K.H.: Age-dependent neurofibrillary tangle formation, neuron loss, and memory impairment in a mouse model of human tauopathy (P301L). Journal of Neuroscience 25:10637-10647, 2005.

Cleary, J., Walsh, D.M., Hofmeister, J.J., Shankar, G.M., Kuskowski, M.A., Selkoe, D.J., Ashe, K.H.: Natural oligomers of the amyloid-β protein specifically disrupt cognitive function. Nature Neuroscience 8:79-84, 2005.

Westerman, M., Cooper-Blacketer, D., Mariash, A., Kotilinek, L., Kawarabayashi, T., Younkin, L.H., Carlson, G., Younkin, S.G., Ashe, K.H.: The relationship between Aβ and memory in the Tg2576 mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. Journal of Neuroscience 22:1858-1867, 2002.

Kotilinek, L., Bacskai, B., Westerman, M., Kawarabayashi, T., Younkin, L.H., Hyman, B.T., Younkin, S.G., Ashe, K.H.: Reversible memory loss in a mouse transgenic model of Alzheimer's disease. Journal of Neuroscience [Rapid Communication] 22:6331-6335, 2002.

Kawarabayashi, T., Younkin, L.H., Saido, T.C., Shoji, M., Ashe, K. Hsiao, Younkin, S.G.: Age dependent changes in brain, cerebrospinal fluid, and plasma amyloid β protein in Tg2576 transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Neuroscience 21:372-381, 2001.

Lim, G.P., Yang, F., Chu, T., Chen, P., Beech, W., Teter, B., Tran, T., Ubeda, O., Ashe, K. Hsiao, Frautschy, S.A., Cole, G.M.: Ibuprofen suppresses plaque pathology and inflammation in a mouse model for Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Neuroscience 20:5709-5714, 2000.

Chapman, P.F., White, G. L., Jones, M.W., Cooper-Blacketer, D., Marshall, V.J., Irizarry, M., Younkin, L., Good, M.A., Bliss, T.V.P., Hyman, B.T., Younkin, S.G., Hsiao, K.K.: Impaired synaptic plasticity and learning in aged amyloid precursor protein transgenic mice. Nature Neuroscience 2:271-276, 1999.

Holcomb, L., Gordon, M.N., McGowan, E., Yu, X., Benkovic, S., Jantzen, P., Wright, K., Saad, I., Mueller, R., Morgan, D., Sanders, S., Zehr, C., O’Campo, K., Hardy, J., Prada, C.-M., Eckman, C., Younkin, S., Hsiao, K.K., Duff, K.: Accelerated Alzheimer’s type phenotype in transgenic mice carrying both mutant amyloid precursor protein and presenilin 1 transgenes. Nature Medicine 4:97-100, 1998.

Hsiao, K.K., Chapman, P., Nilsen, S., Eckman, C., Harigaya, Y., Younkin, S., Yang, F., Cole, G.: Correlative memory deficits, Aβ elevation, and amyloid plaques in transgenic mice. Science 274:99-102, 1996.

Hsiao, K.K., Borchelt, D.R., Olson, K., Johannsdottir, R., Kitt, C., Yunis, W., Xu, S., Eckman, C., Younkin, S., Price, D., Iadecola, C., Clark, H.B., Carlson, G.: Age-related CNS disorder and early death in transgenic FVB/N mice overexpressing Alzheimer amyloid precursor proteins. Neuron 15:1203-1218, 1995.

Hsiao, K.K., Scott, M., Foster, D., Groth, D.F., DeArmond, S.J., Prusiner, S.B.: Spontaneous neurodegeneration in transgenic mice with mutant prion protein. Science 250:1587-1590, 1990.

Hsiao, K.K., Baker, H.F., Crow, T.J., Poulter, M., Owen, F., Terwilliger, J.D., Westaway, D., Ott, J., Prusiner, S.B.: Linkage of a prion protein missense variant to Gerstmann-Sträussler syndrome. Nature 338:342-345, 1989.

Stahl, N., Borchelt, D. R., Hsiao, K.K., Prusiner, S.B.: Scrapie prion protein contains a phosphatidylinositol glycolipid. Cell 51:229 240, 1987.

Contact Information


Mailing Address:
Karen H. Ashe, MD, PhD
N. Bud Grossman CMRC
2101 6th St SE, WMBB 5-144A
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Campus Mail:
N. Bud Grossman CMRC
WMBB 5-144A
Campus Delivery Code 2641

+1 612-625-0963

Direct Office Phone:
+1 612-626-0652