Valerie Daggett, University of Washington professor of bioengineering, received the 2023 University Faculty Lecture Award. The distinction honors current or emeriti faculty whose research, scholarship or art has been widely recognized by their peers and had a substantial impact on their profession, on the research or performance of others and perhaps on society as a whole. Daggett will deliver a campus-wide lecture in 2024.
The award is part of the UW Awards of Excellence, which honors outstanding alumni, faculty, staff, students and retirees who contribute to the richness and diversity of the University community.
Daggett and other award recipients will be recognized at an awards ceremony on June 8 at the Katharyn Alvord Gerlich Theater in Meany Hall. The celebration will take place from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. and is open to the public.
Daggett’s research focuses on investigating protein dynamics, folding and misfolding, particularly as related to human mutations and disease. Her lab combines both computational and experimental approaches to design diagnostic and therapeutic agents to target amyloid diseases.
The lab developed a blood test for Alzheimer’s disease. The test, known by the acronym SOBA (soluble oligomer binding assay), can measure levels of amyloid beta toxic oligomers, which occur early and throughout the disease process. Blood samples from Alzheimer’s disease patients show high levels of toxic oligomers unlike unimpaired controls. Furthermore, SOBA can detect toxic oligomers before cognitive impairment occurs.
Daggett launched a spinout from her UW lab, AltPep, to develop and commercialize SOBA, and the test has also been modified to detect other diseases, including Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia. Along with early detection, AltPep is in preclinical development of therapeutics for these diseases.
The lab’s work with SOBA was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a peer reviewed journal of the National Academy of Sciences. PNAS uses Altmetric to track impact, and the SOBA article ranks in the top 1% of all research ever evaluated by Altmetric.
An American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) fellow and Biophysical Society Fellow, Daggett’s research has been featured in several publications including Alaska Airlines Magazine, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, Medical News Today, Bloomberg, Fierce Biotech, Everyday Health and more, as well as being profiled in NIH Research Matters.