$4.23 million NIH grant to support development of Cleveland Alzheimer's Disease Research Center

The National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded a $4.23 million grant to establish the Cleveland Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. The two-year award will support the development of a multi-institution collaborative focused on accelerating research for Alzheimer's disease and related dementias.

The Cleveland Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, led by James Leverenz, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, will be one of 31 NIH-funded Alzheimer's Disease Research Centers of Excellence in the country that are part of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Centers Program. The new multi-institutional center - the first in Ohio - brings together top researchers and clinicians from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Clinic, Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, the MetroHealth System and University Hospitals.

The Alzheimer's Disease Research Centers Program is a national network of researchers and clinicians at major medical institutions across the United States. Researchers at these centers are working to translate research advances into improved diagnosis and care for people with Alzheimer's disease, as well as finding a way to cure and possibly prevent the disease.

More than 5.3 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease. That number is expected to nearly triple by 2050.

"The Cleveland Alzheimer's Disease Research Center will bring together the considerable expertise from the Northeast Ohio medical and academic communities to focus on one of the largest health care crises facing our country and the state of Ohio," said Dr. Leverenz, director of Cleveland Clinic's Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Cleveland. "The center will create a robust infrastructure to expedite research to better understand and treat Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. As a multi-institution collaboration with a large patient population and deep expertise in dementia research and treatment, we are uniquely positioned to be a high-impact center."

"This is an exciting development for Cleveland and doctors working together from many hospitals can do great things," said Alan Lerner, M.D., director of the Brain Health and Memory Center at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. "Our aim is to advance research and ultimately improve the lives of those affected by this devastating disease."

The new center will support a wide range of studies while also educating scientists, health care professionals and the public on the causes and treatment of dementias. It will have eight cores led by experts across the participating institutions: Administrative (Dr. Leverenz), Biomarkers (Lynn Bekris, Ph.D., Cleveland Clinic); Clinical (Dr. Lerner, UH/CWRU); Data Management and Statistics (Jonathan Haines, Ph.D., CWRU); Neuropathology (Mark Cohen, M.D., and Brian Appleby, M.D., CWRU/UH); Outreach, Recruitment and Engagement (Martha Sajatovic, M.D., UH/CWRU), Research Education (Xiongwei Zhu, Ph.D., CWRU) and Translational Therapeutics (Andrew Pieper, M.D., Ph.D., Harrington Discovery Institute at UH/VA).

"Our team is eager to contribute to the new center, providing statistical and computational expertise leveraging our extensive experience leading large-scale studies that integrate 'omics' and clinical data across tens of thousands of lives," said Dr. Haines, chair of Case Western Reserve's Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences. "Alzheimer's cuts across all ethnicities and all socioeconomic classes and is a huge burden in NE Ohio. Our diverse urban and rural population, combined with detailed genetic and clinical information, and the wealth of additional data from electronic medical records, means this new Cleveland center is uniquely positioned to contribute significantly to the national research agenda."

Particular areas of focus for the center will be atypical Alzheimer's disease (e.g. "rapidly progressive"), Lewy body dementia, healthy individuals at risk for developing dementia, and underserved populations. In addition to community outreach, the center will develop infrastructure and support for promising new investigators and promote the translation of findings from the laboratory to new therapeutics for these devastating diseases.

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