Stanford-based Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center to be launched

A new Stanford-based center will receive nearly $7.3 million in funding over a five-year period to conduct interdisciplinary research on Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.

Victor Henderson

The National Institutes of Health will fund the establishment of an Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The award, totaling slightly more than $7.3 million, will be dispensed over a five-year period.

“This new Stanford-based center will provide a key mechanism by which our exceptional basic-science community can better connect with our translational and clinical neurodegenerative-disease research,” said Frank Longo, MD, PhD, professor and chair of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford. “Many dozens of faculty will be involved.”

The center will help scientists conduct interdisciplinary research on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, as well as on related disorders. An estimated 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and about 300,000 are living with Parkinson’s disease, making these the two most common neurodegenerative disorders nationwide. Moreover, both conditions are rapidly increasing in prevalence. By 2050, the number of Alzheimer’s patients in the United States is expected to reach 13.8 million. The center will home in on common underlying mechanisms occurring in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

The center will also provide educational opportunities for community members, patient caregivers, students and health-care professionals.

Victor Henderson, MD, professor of health research and policy and of neurology and neurological sciences, will direct the center. Tony Wyss-Coray, PhD, professor of neurology and neurological sciences, will serve as co-director. Longo and Jerome Yesavage, MD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, will be associate directors. Michael Greicius, MD, associate professor of neurology, will direct the imaging core of the new center.

“This center’s activities will draw on the university’s unique strengths in imaging; neuroimmunity; synapse biology; biostatistics and bioinformatics; clinical assessment and research; epidemiology; and caregiver outreach,” said Henderson. “We plan to study patients at early stages of illness, as well as healthy older adults, and to follow them over time — in many instances to autopsy. At the same time, we hope to foster new research collaborations that advance knowledge about Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and similar disorders in order to treat them more effectively and help prevent them from occurring.”

With this award, Stanford joins the ranks of more than two dozen NIH-funded Alzheimer’s Disease Centers at major medical institutions throughout the United States. There are two types of these centers: Alzheimer’s Disease Core Centers provide core services in support of research and education, and they support small pilot projects; Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers, in addition, support two to three large-scale research projects.

The Stanford center’s two research projects will be led by Nobel laureate Thomas Sudhof, MD, professor of molecular and cellular physiology, and Kathleen Poston, MD, assistant professor of neurology and neurological sciences.

“This is a major accomplishment for Stanford,” Longo said. “Our patients will benefit from enhanced trial capability, while their contributions will aid some of the top neuroscientists in the world.”

In addition to NIH support, the center’s founding was made possible by donations from Stanford supporters and families, the Stanford Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, the School of Medicine and Stanford Health Care.

The center’s clinical research will be coordinated through the Stanford Center for Memory Disorders. Those interested in participating in research can contact Christina Wyss-Coray, RN, at cwysscoray@stanfordmed.org for more information.


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