April 7, 2005

Posters in the Rotunda: A Celebration of Undergraduate Research

Remarks by Dr. Jeff Johnson

Thank you, President Reilly. Good afternoon everyone. It is an honor to be here. On behalf of my many colleagues throughout the UW System who conduct undergraduate research, I want to extend my thanks and appreciation to the Regents, the Governor, and Legislators for their support of our important work. And let me add a special note of gratitude to our hard working undergraduate students for all their efforts. I was an undergraduate researcher, and that's what drove me into science. I understood both perspectives.

I can attest to the value of supporting undergraduate research. I really do know how hard all of you have worked because I am the Director of the Bachelor’s of Science Program in Pharmacology and Toxicology on the Madison campus. This program has a very strong emphasis on undergraduate research and the dedication of these undergraduates to research is impressive.

Undergraduate researchers contributed to and are co-authors on a number of our recently published papers. These studies have identified two independent proteins in the brain that have the potential to halt the progression of diseases such Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and Huntington’s disease.

With respect to Alzheimer’s disease, the number of Wisconsin residents affected with Alzheimer’s is expected to grow by almost 60 percent over the next two decades. The kind of research that my colleagues, students, and I are doing has the potential to give benefit to thousands of Wisconsin adults and their families who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease as well as other neurodegenerative diseases.

Thanks to the Governor, the Legislature and the University, we will, I believe, make new discoveries, bring those new therapies to market, start new businesses, grow our economy and impact lives here in Wisconsin. I am thrilled to be a part of this exciting activity, and am anxious to see the potential it holds brought to fruition. Please continue to support UW undergraduate research. It is a central part of developing good scientists.