$8M NIH Grant Will Support Multi-Institutional Alzheimer’s Research

Albany Medical College Scientists Among the Principal Investigators

Albany Medical College scientists are part of a multi-institution research effort awarded an $8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute on Aging to study the genes that accelerate or slow Alzheimer’s disease.

The multi-disciplinary team, led by Sally Temple, PhD, scientific director of the Neural Stem Cell Institute in Rensselaer, includes Kevin Pumiglia, PhD, professor in the Department of Regenerative and Cancer Cell Biology, and Kristen Zuloaga, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics, both at Albany Medical College. They are joined by colleagues from Washington University in St. Louis and the University of California, San Francisco.

“Each of the six principal investigators brings a particular expertise to this study, from vascular pathology in dementia to Alzheimer’s disease genomics, from bioinformatics and CRISPR-based gene editing to the in-depth functional assessment of Alzheimer’s disease mouse models,” said Dr. Pumiglia. “I look forward to collaborating with these esteemed scientists to better understand the underlying factors of this disease that impacts so many.”

With support from the five-year award, the researchers will use large-scale, leading-edge gene editing and screening methods to identify and prioritize the hundreds of genes associated with vascular disease in the brain, which has been shown to be an early driver of the loss of brain function linked to Alzheimer’s.

Then, in focused functional studies using human stem cell models and mouse models, they’ll seek to understand how these genes act to alter the disease’s progression. Ultimately, they hope to identify the early events that lead to vascular disease in the brain, which could then be targeted to combat Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than six million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, including 410,000 New Yorkers, and it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.