News Release: Emory Healthcare , Research

Jun. 21,  2010

Emory Alzheimer's Disease Research Center Receives NIH Top Status, Funding Renewal

The Emory Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC) has again received the National Institute on Aging prestigious Alzheimer's Disease Research Center designation, along with $8 million in research funding over the next five years.

Emory's ADRC is the only NIA-funded center in Georgia and one of only 30 in the United States.

"It is an honor for this grant and special designation to be renewed, and a tremendous responsibility," says Allan Levey, MD, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Neurology, Emory University School of Medicine, and an internationally recognized Alzheimer's disease (AD) clinician and researcher.

"There is urgency to our fight against this disease, given the rapidly growing numbers of elderly individuals at risk," says Levey. "We have an opportunity to build on the momentum of much exciting research progress in early identification of disease and development of many new treatment strategies that offer promise to slow its progression and lead to prevention."

Comparable to the National Cancer Institute's Comprehensive Cancer Center designation for excellence in cancer research and community outreach programs, the coveted Alzheimer's Disease Research Center P-50 grant signifies the highest status an institution can receive in AD research and care.

Three research projects, spanning from basic science to clinical research, will accompany the grant.

Stuart Zola, PhD, associate director of the Emory ADRC and director of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory, says, "These important projects will advance our understanding of normal aging and the transition from normal aging to mild cognitive impairment to the earliest stages of dementia, whether from AD or other diseases associated with aging." Zola also serves as co-PI of the P-50 grant.

Faculty in the School of Medicine (Departments of Neurology, Pathology, Psychiatry, Genetics and Rehab Medicine), the Rollins School of Public Health, the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing and Yerkes National Primate Research Center participate in the Emory ADRC.

"This award clearly illustrates the power of collaborating across the university - from basic science research, to testing therapies in animals, to clinical trials in humans," says Zola. "It truly makes a difference and sets Emory apart from other Alzheimer's disease programs."

The NIA's special designation requires Emory to support five mandatory core components of its Alzheimer's program.

These include:

  • An Administrative Core to provide overall direction (led by Levey)
  • A Clinical Core to recruit participants and provide data on patients with AD and other memory problems, as well as healthy people in control groups to facilitate clinical, genetic and pathological studies (led by James J. Lah MD, PhD, associate professor of neurology)
  • A Data Management and Statistics Core to provide management of the database and biostatistical consulting to the researchers (led by Kyle Steenland, PhD, professor in the Departments of Epidemiology and Occupational Health, Rollins School of Public Health)
  • An Education and Information Core to educate patients, families and caregivers about AD and to educate general and specialty physicians as well as other health care professionals (led by Kenneth Hepburn, PhD, professor and associate dean for research in the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing)
  • A Neuropathology Core to coordinate autopsies and diagnostic assessment of brains following death (led by Jonathan Glass MD, professor of neurology and pathology and Marla Gearing, PhD, assistant professor of pathology)

Emory's ADRC recruits patients from the culturally diverse clinical specialty programs at Emory and Grady Memorial Hospital for participation in the Emory ADRC registry, the autopsy program and the various clinical research activities. Data from these cores are captured and stored for distribution to local researchers and for national collaborations.

"The Emory Alzheimer's Disease Research Center is definitely keeping us on the forefront in the global effort to better understand and treat age-related cognitive disorders," says Levey.

For more information about the Emory ADRC, please contact 404-728-6950.

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The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

Learn more about Emory’s health sciences:
Blog: http://emoryhealthblog.com
Twitter: @emoryhealthsci
Web: http://emoryhealthsciences.org

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