New memorial fund supports Swayne lab research on neurodegenerative diseases

A new memorial fund honouring Dr. Alfred “Fred” Fischer, a former University of Victoria faculty member in Science, will support Dr. Leigh Anne Swayne’s work on neurodegenerative diseases.

“Dr. Fischer lived a truly amazing life. I am moved and inspired, and am deeply grateful to be entrusted with his legacy in this way,” says Dr. Swayne (Division of Medical Sciences). “I will continue to do my upmost to advance my team’s work, and we commit to honour his name with our work to the very best of our abilities.”

Donations from the Dr. Fischer memorial fund will specifically help the Swayne Lab further develop its research stream on Alzheimer’s disease. This work – which focuses on understanding the formation and stability of nerve cell connections, also known as synapses – was initiated by Dr. Leigh Wicki-Stordeur (previous graduate student, Swayne Lab) and Dr. Juan Sanchez-Arias (previous graduate student and current postdoctoral fellow, Swayne Lab) and will now be continued by Dr. Wicki-Stordeur, who has recently returned to the Swayne lab as a Research Associate.

imageOne of the main areas of research in the Swayne Lab is understanding the biology of synapses, microscopic structures that allow neurons to communicate with one another. These key structures are adversely affected in both neurodevelopmental disorders and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

“Some of the proteins we focus on at synapses play a role in neurodegenerative diseases,” explains Dr. Swayne. “We are trying to figure out how these proteins regulate synapse formation and stability, which could give us insight into disease processes and identify potential treatment strategies.”

Dr. Fischer joined UVic as a full Professor of Chemistry in January 1969 and went on to serve as Acting Head of the Chemistry Department (1972-73), Dean of Arts & Science (1975-78), Vice-President, Academic (1979-83), Acting Dean of Engineering (1985-86) and Associate Vice-President, Administration (1989-95). He passed away in December 2021, about a year after advancing Alzheimer's disease forced his move into long-term care in late 2020. 

You can read more about Dr. Fischer’s life in his obituary published in the Times Colonist.

To donate to Dr. Fischer’s memorial fund, please click here.