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$7.5 Million Award from NIH for Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center

October 25, 2011, Volume 58, No. 09


The Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center (ADCC) at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has received a renewal grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at NIH. The renewal, estimated at $7.5 million over the next five years, will fund the Center through its 25th year of operation, in 2015.

The NIH Centers support and conduct research on Alzheimer’s disease (AD) to serve as shared research resources that will facilitate research on AD and related disorders; distinguish disease processes from the processes of normal brain aging and mild cognitive impairment; provide programs for training physicians and researchers; develop novel techniques and methodologies; and translate these research findings into better diagnostic, prevention and treatment strategies. The NIA funds a network of 29 AD Centers and the Penn ADCC was among the first to be funded 21 years ago.

“The renewal of the Penn ADCC will enable us to support basic and clinical research focused on understanding Alzheimer’s as well as finding better ways to treat this disorder which currently affects 5,500,000 Americans and will affect two to three times more by 2050,” said John Trojanowski, director of the Penn ADCC and professor of pathology and laboratory medicine.

Moreover, according to Dr. Trojanowski, “Being part of the AD Center network facilitates a number of collaborations among NIA-funded AD Centers on a national scale such as the AD Cooperative Study that conducts clinical trials, the AD Neuroimaging Initiative that pursues biomarker studies and the AD Genetics Consortium that undertakes large-scale genetic studies, all of which together accelerate the pace of advances in AD research.”

In the next five years Penn’s interdisciplinary Center will concentrate on plasma, CSF, and genetic biomarker studies of AD; delve deeper into related dementias such as FTLD and DLB/PDD; and characterize AD and related disorders in urban Latinos.

In particular, the Latino outreach program focuses on recruiting urban Latinos into the ADCC’s longitudinal cohort and affiliated research studies. Penn ADCC Latino families in whom a PSEN1 G201A mutation was identified (which was reported previously in Caribbean-Hispanics) prompted ADCC scientists to test all available Latino samples in the Penn ADCC DNA bank for the mutation. They found this mutation in about 12 percent of AD cases in the Core’s Latino cohort, suggesting that this mutation may be more prevalent than previously recognized in this population.

“We are excited to continue the work to achieve the mission of finding better ways to treat AD and help patients and their families afflicted with this disease,” said Dr. Trojanowski. 

Almanac - October 25, 2011, Volume 58, No. 09