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The University of Amsterdam (UvA) is bestowing an honorary doctorate on Polish-American biochemist and microbiologist Jan Potempa. Potempa is receiving the honorary doctorate for his ground-breaking research into the ability of oral bacteria to break down the blood-brain barrier and their role in the development of Alzheimer's disease. The honorary doctorate will be presented during the online celebration of the UvA Dies Natalis on Friday, 8 January 2021.

Prof. Jan Potempa's main scientific focus is on the pathogenicity of infectious diseases. Drawing on his extensive knowledge of oral biology, Potempa has successfully demonstrated that the mouth is not an autonomously functioning organ and that bacteria (mainly those linked to periodontitis) and their pathological constituents can enter the brain and impact the development of Alzheimer's disease. 'Jan Potempa's work has greatly contributed to our understanding of the molecular basis that determines the virulence of oral pathogenic micro-organisms,' explains honorary supervisor Bruno Loos. ‘Potempa's research confirms that good oral health may also contribute to continued cognitive health.'

His research into the potential role of pathogenic oral bacteria in the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease became a global news story in 2019. Potempa filed several patents as a part of this research, initiating the development of drugs designed to inhibit bacterial proteolytic enzymes.

Karen Maex, Rector Magnificus of the UvA: 'Jan Potempa is an exceptional researcher. His groundbreaking research leads to new scientific insights and has a major impact in the field of oral health. I am incredibly proud that we will be awarding Jan Potempa this honorary doctorate on behalf of the University of Amsterdam during our Dies Natalis.'

About Jan Potempa

Jan Potempa holds professorships at the Faulty of Biochemistry, Biophysics & Biotechnology of the Jagiellonian University (Krakow, Poland). Since 2009, he is also a professor at the School of Dentistry at the University of Louisville (Kentucky, USA). He received his cum laude Master's degree from Jagiellonian University in 1979, where he thereafter also obtained his doctorate and his D.Sc. (habilitation dissertation). He was appointed professor in Poland in 1998, as confirmed by the President of the Polish Republic.

The honorary supervisor is Prof. Bruno Loos, professor of Periodontology at the Faculty of Dentistry's Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam (ACTA).

Besides Jan Potempa, Shoshana Zuboff will also be receiving an honorary doctorate from the UvA.