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Allen Roses Dies

Allen Roses, a professor of neurobiology at Duke University School of Medicine, has died. He was 73.

Roses is known for his contribution to Alzheimer's disease research, the News and Observer reports. While at Duke in the 1990s, he and his team linked the disease to the APOE gene, a finding that was met with skepticism, the paper notes.

"He wasn't shy about standing up to his critics," Kathleen Welsh-Bohmer, the director of the Bryan Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Duke, tells the News and Observer. "He was fearless."

In 2009, Roses and his team linked another gene, TOMM40, to Alzheimer's. Zinfandel Pharmaceuticals — a company started by Roses that same year — is working with Takeda on a phase III clinical trial to gauge whether TOMM40 can act as a biomarker for disease risk and if the diabetes drug Actos can delay disease onset.

Prior to re-joining Duke in 2008, Roses was a senior vice president at GlaxoSmithKline, where he led its genetics research and pharmacogenetics section. He also founded Cabernet Pharmaceuticals that year to offer pharmacogenetics and project-management services to pharma, biotech, and academic groups.

More recently, Roses implicated a simple sequence repeat in Lou Gehrig's disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He told GenomeWeb last month that his team developed a database of short structural variants, which they used to identify a simple polyT sequence repeat near an ALS-linked gene.

GenomeWeb's Turna Ray notes that Roses' work — such as his ApoE and TOMM40 findings — has often been controversial. And his recent focus on short structural variants was trying to spur the field to move beyond genome-wide association studies.

"He treated every day like it was his last one because he knew it probably was," Stephanie Roses, his daughter, tells the News-Observer. Roses had suffered two heart attacks prior to the fatal one last Friday. "He lived that way for the last 26 years," she adds.

Even until recently, "he was still doing everything at 100 miles per hour," she says.