Prothena is working to develop new treatments for people facing some of the world’s most devastating diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It’s a challenging mission that attracts people who are passionate and committed including Francisco Lio, our Senior Director, Global Program Manager, who manages interdisciplinary teams responsible for two promising Alzheimer’s disease medicines, one currently in clinical trials and another making its way to the clinic. In honor of The Longest Day, a day where people from across the world can come together to fight the darkness of Alzheimer’s disease, Francisco shared an open letter expressing his deeply personal connection to the fight against Alzheimer’s disease through his grandmother.
Learn more about Prothena’s pipeline of Alzheimer’s disease candidates here.
Hi, my name is Francisco Lio, and I have been a member of the team at Prothena since August 2020.
Below is a picture of my grandmother Ernestina. She died of Alzheimer’s disease June 18, 2020. Hospice at home was a tough choice, but otherwise she would have died in isolation due to COVID. Instead, she died amongst the people that loved her the most. The last years were so difficult, especially for my auntie Virginia who took care of her. Caregivers are so special.
When I started my career in pharmaceuticals grandma told me, “One day you will make a medicine for me.” Those words still echo in my mind. She inspired me to focus my talents on Alzheimer’s disease, so I gravitated to Prothena.
I know that I cannot bring my grandmother back, but what I would give to dance with her one more time, to hear one more word of wisdom. I can’t. However, I can keep her memory alive and honor others. At Prothena, I am working with bright scientists who imagined a different world — one without Alzheimer’s disease. Our teams not only set some of the foundations of our current understanding of the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s disease, but have also dedicated their entire professional lives to eradicating the disease. I have never worked in a more harmonious and stimulating environment. Why share this with you? For us, patients are our inspiration, our passion, our every ounce of dedication, they are family, and friends – they are real.
I will be relentless. I love you grandma. We are relentlessly working on medicines inspired by those that have suffered like you and are currently suffering because of this disease. We hope to bring this suffering to an end.
The rays of hope that have travelled for decades are now visible as a constellation of stars, the era of ending Alzheimer’s is here.