The USC bank is profound and its scope is wide when it comes to researching Alzheimer’s disease.
In Paul Thompson’s lab, researchers make inquiries about a large number of brain and DNA images from around the world to get ideas that would otherwise be impossible to pinpoint. Judy Pa explores how exercise and cognitive training, aided by virtual reality, can slow cognitive impairment. JC Chen wants to know if the dirty air we breathe robs us of memories.
USC’s federal funding for Alzheimer’s and related dementias reached $ 92 million in 2020, a reflection of the university’s position as one of the nation’s leading Alzheimer’s research centers. And that figure, documented in the most recent categorical spending report from the National Institutes of Health, is only one part. It does not include total multi-year active grants, nor does it include innovative projects funded by other sources such as the National Science Foundation or the Alzheimer’s Association.
The USC star list continues: Arthur Toga leads the computer science of the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, the largest and oldest biomarker discovery effort in Alzheimer’s disease research Alzheimer’s, as well as GAAIN, which houses the largest collection of Alzheimer’s data in the world. . Berislav Zlokovic and Toga lead a project on vascular contributions to Alzheimer’s; Helena Chui, Toga and Zlokovic run the USC Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.
The growth in federal funding also demonstrates USC’s alignment with national research priorities. The NIH is the largest public funder of biomedical research in the world. In 2020, it distributed nearly $ 3 billion for projects dedicated to memory-stealing disease.
“More than a third of our NIH Alzheimer’s funding for 2020 supports USC’s work as a global research hub,” said Ishwar Puri, USC’s vice president of research. “USC maintains and interrogates data collected from patients around the world. We have created a nationwide network of clinical trials and a method for thousands of potential clinical trial participants before they show symptoms. ”
More than a third of our NIH Alzheimer 2020 funding supports USC’s work as a global research center.
For example, in 2020 the NIH awarded $ 31 million to Paul Aisen, director of the Alzheimer’s Therapeutic Research Institute, to continue coordinating a network of 35 clinical sites that will channel patients toward clinical trials. The Alzheimer’s Clinical Trials Consortium is led jointly by Aisen, Reisa Sperling of Brigham and Women Hospital in Boston and Ronald Petersen of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
In addition, funding supports the recruitment of potential study participants 10 to 20 years before symptoms appear with a free online memory test that participants do at home every three months.
Leading USC researchers continue to address new Alzheimer’s projects
In 2020, the NIH awarded 94 separate grants to USC researchers, compared to 32 in 2015. The faculties funded last year include:
• Jinkook Lee, who studies the interaction between genes in lifestyle in the onset and progression of cognitive aging. His work is in India, where an estimated 4.1 million people have dementia. Lee is a professor of economics research at the USC Dornsife College of Arts, Arts and Sciences and a senior economist at the university’s Center for Economic and Social Research.
• Thompson, who leads an initiative called Artificial Intelligence for Alzheimer’s Disease, or AI4AD. The international effort performs large-scale brain scans and genetic studies. Thompson also won a prestigious Alzheimer’s Association Zenith Fellows Award in 2020 for launching a global study on brain aging in 35 countries. Thompson is Professor of Ophthalmology, Neurology, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Radiology, Psychiatry, and Engineering at the Keck School of Medicine at USC and Associate Director of the USC Institute of Neuroimaging and Computer Science Mark and Mary Stevens.
• Bread, whose work involves what she calls a “brain gym,” where her subjects engage in physical exercise while performing cognitive exercises using virtual reality. Pa is an associate professor at the Mark and Mary Stevens Institute of Neuroimaging and Computer Science at the Keck School of Medicine and the Department of Neurology.
• Michael Rafii, who studies Alzheimer’s in people with Down syndrome. People with Down syndrome have a vital risk of dementia of more than 75% and constitute the largest population in the world with genetically determined Alzheimer’s disease. Rafii is medical director of the Alzheimer’s Therapeutic Research Institute and associate professor of neurology at the Keck School of Medicine.
• Carol Prescott, who studies how higher education is associated with preserved cognitive performance in old age and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Possible explanations include direct protective effects of more education and preservation of ability or improved functioning due to the greater cognitive complexity of occupational and leisure activities among people with more education. Prescott is a professor of psychology and gerontology at USC Dornsife.
Toga, professor of ophthalmology, neurology, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, radiology, psychiatry and engineering at the Keck School of Medicine and director of the Neuroimaging Laboratory and the Mark and Mary Stevens Institute of Neuroimaging and Computer Science at USC, notes USC’s broad commitment has led to a rise in research into Alzheimer’s disease, a leader in many areas.
“In combination, our research programs in clinical trials, molecular and cellular research along with systems and imaging include a comprehensive and balanced effort,” Toga said. “Together, these programs will discover and cure this devastating disease. It’s a really exciting time. “
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