Li-Hueh Tsai became interested in the brain when she saw what happens when the mind begins to crumble. As a small child, she saw her grandmother suffer from Alzheimer's disease - an experience that left a deep impression on her and helped shape her scientific carerr. Tsai, now the director of the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT, has developed a powerful model of Alzheimer's disease using mice, and is working to better understand and stop the disease that robs people of their memories, independence, and personality.
Q: Can you describe your early experiences with Alzheimer's?
A: I grew up in Taiwan in a small fishermen's village north of Taipei. My grandmom take care of me. That was before the availability of the refrigerator , so we had to make a daily trip to the market. So I accompanied my grandmom everyday and then one day - i think I must be 3 or 4 - after the market we were heading home and there was a thunderstorm. We were hiding under a shed, and when the rain stopped, I looked up to my grandmom and I said,