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Funded projects

SINCE ITS FOUNDING, CURE ALZHEIMER’S FUND HAS CONTRIBUTED MORE THAN $50,000,000 TO RESEARCH, AND ITS FUNDED INITIATIVES HAVE BEEN RESPONSIBLE FOR SEVERAL KEY BREAKTHROUGHS.

THE FOLLOWING PROJECTS ARE FOCUSED ON SEX-BASED GENETICS.
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VICE-CHAIR OF NEUROLOGY AND DIRECTOR OF THE GENETICS AND AGING RESEARCH UNIT AT MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL
JOSEPH P. AND ROSE F. KENNEDY PROFESSOR OF NEUROLOGY AT HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL.
CHAIR OF CURE ALZHEIMER’S FUND RESEARCH CONSORTIUM

Dr. Tanzi co-discovered three of the first Alzheimer’s disease genes and has identified several others in the Alzheimer’s Genome Project, which he directs. He also discovered the Wilson’s disease gene and participated in the discovery of several other neurological disease genes. Most recently, he has used Alzheimer’s disease genes to create a three-dimensional human stem cell-derived neural culture system that recapitulates Alzheimer’s disease plaque and tangle pathology. Using this system, Dr. Tanzi is also developing therapeutics for Alzheimer’s disease including gamma secretase modulators and metal chaperones to lower beta-amyloid and tangle burden in the brain.

Dr. Tanzi has published nearly 500 research papers and has received the highest awards in his field, including the Metropolitan Life Foundation Award and Potamkin Prize. Most recently, he received the 2015 Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award and was named to the 2015 list of TIME 100 Most Influential People in the World.

He co-authored the popular books Decoding Darkness and NEW YORK TIMES Bestsellers Super Brain and Super Genes with Depak Chopra. He was named by GQ magazine as a Rock Star of Science, and in his spare time, has played keyboards with the band Aerosmith, guitarist, Joe Perry, and singer, Chris Mann.

Search for Female-Specific Genetic Factors Contributing to Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease

This multidimensional investigation will seek to elucidate sex-linked factors that determine Alzheimer’s disease risk, age of onset and rate of progression, powerful information that would contribute to the pursuit of a cure for both sexes. Women make up more than two-thirds of the Alzheimer’s patient population, yet very little is known or understood about why this is the case or what it means about the disease’s mechanisms of action, risk factors and progression. Epidemiological evidence suggests that a woman at age 65 faces almost twice the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in her lifetime and nearly three times at age 75 than does a man of the same age, differences that are not explained by age of expected mortality alone. We propose to carry out a comprehensive, family-based association meta-analysis of all three AD family sample Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) datasets separately for each sex, an important and novel investigation since virtually no AD genome-wide association study carried out to date has considered sex-based differences. More specifically, we also will calculate the overall genetic component explained by each of the >47 million single nucleotide variants (SNV) identified in the National Institute of Mental Health WGS project and proceed to estimate the genetic correlation/overlap between males and females. More specific appreciation of the factors that increase or decrease risk of disease, age of onset and rate of progression would benefit both sexes, yet the collection, analysis and publication of scientific data have not yet caught up to this recognized need. Common gender-specific lifestyles, X-linked genetic variants, female hormonal profiles over the lifecycle and other differences offer compelling subjects for investigation as contributing factors.

PROFESSOR OF TRANSLATIONAL NEUROSCIENCE
DIRECTOR OF THE NEUROCOGNITIVE DISORDERS PROGRAM IN THE DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHIATRY AT DUKE UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER

Dr. Murali Doraiswamy is a Professor of Translational Neuroscience as well as Director of the Neurocognitive Disorders Program in the Department of Psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center. He also serves on the Executive Committee of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences and as a Senior Fellow at the Duke Center for the Study of Aging. Dr. Doraiswamy directs a leading clinical trials unit which has been involved in the development of many of the leading products used today to treat cognitive and neuropsychiatric conditions. He is also widely recognized for his work in the study of imaging biomarkers (such as MRI volumetrics, amyloid PET and functional MRI). Dr. Doraiswamy is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (London), a Fellow of the American Neurological Association and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Brain research. He also serves as an Alzheimer’s adviser to leading government agencies, biotech and health companies, and patient Alzheimer’s advocacy groups.

Dr. Doraiswamy is a brain health Alzheimer’s adviser for Men’s Health magazine and serves as an Alzheimer’s advisor for AARP. He is co-author of a popular book, The Alzheimer’s Action Plan.

PATHWAY CROSS-TALKS ASSOCIATED WITH SEX AND RISK FOR ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

Some recent findings suggest that women with mild cognitive impairment may progress to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) at faster rates than men. However, the biological basis of the sex differences in AD still is debated and warrants a more detailed examination. We propose to use novel “big data” computational methodologies to discover how cross-talk between biological pathways may be linked to sex differences and cognitive decline in people at risk for Alzheimer’s.