Innovative Neuropathologist


Donald Lowell Price

Donald Lowell Price, a groundbreaking leader in neuroscience and the founding director of the Division of Neuropathology, the Brain Resource Center and the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Johns Hopkins, died May 5 after a long illness. He was 87.

A pioneer in clinical and experimental neuropathology, Price was recruited to Johns Hopkins from Harvard in 1971. In the 1980s, his laboratory made seminal contributions to the understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). His research on naturally occurring animal diseases, in parallel to human neuropathologic studies, yielded important information about motor neuron disease.

In 1984, under Price’s direction, the first donated brain was stored in The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s pathology building. Over the years that followed, the center collected the brains of people who died with Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. The center’s collection grew even more when its work fused with that of the National Institute on Aging’s Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, for which it performs the neuropathology for all study participants who receive autopsies.

During Price’s tenure at Johns Hopkins, his research impacted the fundamental understanding of the molecular basis and drivers of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, and how the brain ages. Through his scientific insight, Price was instrumental in the development of donepezil, one of the most widely used drugs for treatment of Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Price also leaves a legacy in education and training. He trained hundreds of medical and graduate students, residents, and fellows, many of whom have gone on to illustrious careers in academics, and he played a critical role in creating the pathobiology graduate training program at Johns Hopkins.