Cleveland Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center to Be Created With $4.23 Million NIA Grant

Local population, deep expertise portend a center with high impact

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

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The Cleveland Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, led by James Leverenz, MD, of Cleveland Clinic, will be one of 31 National Institutes of Health (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 (CWRU), 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 U.S. Investigators at these centers are working to translate research advances into improved diagnosis and care for people with AD and to find a way to cure and possibly prevent the disease.

More than 5.3 million Americans suffer from AD — a number that is expected to nearly triple by 2050.

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‘Positioned to be a high-impact center’

“The Cleveland Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center will bring together the considerable expertise from Northeast Ohio’s medical and academic communities to focus on one of the largest healthcare crises facing our country and the state of Ohio,” says Dr. Leverenz, Director of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Cleveland. “The center will create a robust infrastructure for expediting 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,” says Alan Lerner, MD, Director of the Brain Health and Memory Center at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center (UH). “Our aim is to advance research and ultimately improve the lives of those affected by this devastating disease.”

Eight core realms of activity

The new center will support a wide range of studies while also educating scientists, healthcare professionals and the public on the causes and treatment of dementias. It will include eight cores led by experts across the participating institutions:

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  • Administrative (Dr. Leverenz, Cleveland Clinic)
  • Biomarkers (Lynn Bekris, PhD, Cleveland Clinic)
  • Clinical (Dr. Lerner, UH/CWRU)
  • Data Management and Statistics (Jonathan Haines, PhD, CWRU)
  • Neuropathology (Mark Cohen, MD, and Brian Appleby, MD, CWRU/UH)
  • Outreach, Recruitment and Engagement (Martha Sajatovic, MD, UH/CWRU)
  • Research Education (Xiongwei Zhu, PhD, CWRU)
  • Translational Therapeutics (Andrew Pieper, MD, PhD, Harrington Discovery Institute at UH/VA Medical Center)

Strengths and focus areas

“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,” says Dr. Haines, Chair of CWRU’s Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences. “Alzheimer’s cuts across all ethnicities and all socioeconomic classes and is a huge burden in Northeast 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 AD (e.g., “rapidly progressive”), Lewy body dementia, healthy individuals at risk for developing dementia, and underserved populations. In addition to conducting 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 AD and related dementias.

The Cleveland Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center is funded by NIH grant P30AG062428.