$10 million grant awarded for healthy aging and Alzheimer’s studies

Alzheimer’s disease researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have won renewal of a grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) to study the differences between people who remain mentally spry in the golden years of life and those who develop dementia.

The NIA will provide the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) at Washington University with nearly $10 million over the next five years. The grant, titled “Healthy Aging and Senile Dementia,” was first awarded to Washington University in 1984 and has received continuous funding ever since.

Principal investigator John C. Morris, M.D., the Harvey A. and Dorismae Hacker Friedman Distinguished Professor of Neurology and director of the ADRC, said studies funded by the renewed grant focus on the development of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain prior to the onset of dementia.

“Given the amount of damage Alzheimer’s inflicts in the brain before clinical symptoms, detecting this damage and understanding how it occurs are absolutely essential steps toward successful treatments,” says Morris.

Studies funded by the grant will:

  • Examine potential links between stroke and amyloid beta, the main ingredient of the plaques found in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients.
  • Search for and evaluate brain imaging agents and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers that may allow preclinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Identify genetic factors that may influence Alzheimer’s disease risk through analysis of cerebrospinal fluid samples.
  • Determine whether Alzheimer’s disease has clinically discernible effects on attention prior to the onset of dementia.

The ADRC at Washington University is the only Alzheimer’s center to have two program project grants from the NIA for Alzheimer’s research.

“It’s an honor to receive this grant because the reviewers look not only at what our team plans to do in the next five years, but also at what we’ve achieved in the past,” notes Morris. “Our successful renewal is a testament to the high quality of our investigators and their work.”

Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked third in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.