Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, Department of Psychiatry, Taub Institute at Columbia University/ NYSPI, New York

“I like getting older. As one gets older, it gets easier to think. Because of recent advancements such as imaging techniques, and the recognition of the combined role of amyloid and tau, I’m more excited now, more optimistic, that I was just five or ten years ago.”

Among the researchers to whom Cure Alzheimer’s Fund has provided financial grants is Karen Duff, PH.D…, of Columbia University Medical Center. Karen is a pioneer in the research that identified the tau protein as a critical factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. She is currently working on understanding how the disease propagates through the brain and what can be done to clear the brain’s pathways. She is more optimistic now about finding therapies and treatments that may help to slow or prevent than disease than she was just a few years ago, because she believes that imaging technology and other advancements have pushed the field forward.

Dr. Duff joined Columbia University with a joint appointment at the NYS Psychiatric Institute in 2006, and she currently holds appointments in the Departments of Pathology and Cell Biology, Psychiatry and the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s, and the aging brain. In the last 20 years, Dr. Duff has genetically engineered several widely used mouse models for Alzheimer’s disease, tauopathies and synucleinopathies. These mice have been used in studies ranging from MRI and PET for diagnostics development, to proof-of-concept testing of therapeutic targets. Currently, her main interests are fourfold studying how Alzheimer’s disease related pathology and dysfunction propagates though the brain and from cell to cell as the disease worsens; using multi-omics platforms (transcriptomics, lipidomics and metabolomics) to study the role of aging and inheritance of the Alzheimer’s disease risk variant APOE4 as an initiating factor in Alzheimer’s disease; the role and therapeutic potential of protein clearance pathways in tauopathies and the basis and manipulation of memory deficits using optogenetic and brain stimulation techniques.

Dr. Duff received her PH.D. from Sydney Brenner’s department at the University of Cambridge (UK) in 1991, then moved to London to work briefly with Alison Goate before moving to the US with John Hardy in 1992 to a position at the University of South Florida. In 1996, she moved her lab to the Mayo Clinic Florida and in 1998 to the Nathan Kline Institute/New York University. She has published over 140 peer reviewed papers and has received several awards, the most prestigious being the Potamkin Prize IN 2006.

Dr. Duff is a member of the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund Research Consortium.