Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research
M. Kerry O’Banion, M.D., Ph.D. and Anton Porsteinsson, M.D.
The burden of Alzheimer’s will reach epidemic proportions as our population ages. It is estimated that by 2050, 14 million Americans will suffer from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Decades of research and major investments by the pharmaceutical industry have yet to produce new treatments that can change the course of the Alzheimer’s. Despite these setbacks, scientists now know more about this disease than ever before. Recent discoveries have highlighted the multiple biological mechanisms that lie at the heart of Alzheimer’s and have given scientists greater insight and could potentially lead to new ways to treat the disease. Furthermore, NIH funding to support research on Alzheimer’s has doubled since 2015 to almost $1 billion per year.
The conditions now exist for the scientific community to develop a more complete understanding of the factors that give rise to this complex disease, including the role of proteins such as amyloid beta and tau, neuro-inflammation, plasticity, genetic factors, and the brain’s vascular, immune, and waste removal systems.
The University of Rochester has a storied history of geriatric and Alzheimer’s research dating back to the late 1970’s when T. Frank Williams, M.D., a member of the URMC faculty, was tapped to become director of the National Institute of Aging and helped establish Alzheimer’s as a federal research priority. His efforts and the contribution over the last several decades of many other leading scientists in the field have made the University a hub for research in the disease with both a robust and active clinical trials operation and programs spread across many departments and labs that are investigating the fundamental biological mechanisms of the disease.
The new Center creates an integrated community of Alzheimer’s disease researchers at the University that strengthens and advances research, recruits and trains new scientists, and provides them with the technical and financial resources they require, all with the goal of developing new therapies that can improve the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. The Medical Center will also seek federal designation as an Alzheimer’s Disease Center.