Alzheimer's Research

Key to the Future

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. Naturally, an important goal is to change that trajectory. As an academic medical center, one of our missions is to conduct biological and clinical research, programs that have continued through the pandemic, and many that target Alzheimer’s disease. This includes a recent major $8 million NIH grant to study causes of the disease.

It is our belief that our scientists at Albany Medical College and our physicians in the Department of Neurology have been able to secure such large grants in part because of the comprehensive nature and robustness of our Alzheimer’s Center.

Research coordinator Katlynn Patterson can be reached at 518-264-6192.

Patient trials we are involved in include:

  • Patients in two different Phase III trials, both are double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of antiamyloid monoclonal antibodies. The idea with such agents is that removing amyloid protein, which is deposited in the brain as neuritic plaques, may help slow progression of disease. These studies are sponsored by Eli Lilly and by Eisai.
  • Patients in several open label extensions of similar trials. These studies are a final phase after the placebo-controlled phase, in which all subjects receive active medication. These include a trial from Biogen using aducanumab, the agent the FDA approved this past June for slowing progression of Alzheimer’s, the first medication shown to do so, and another from Eisai with a similar agent (lecanemab).
  • We follow several patients in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative III trial (ADNI3), which is a long-term observational study collecting exam data, neuroimaging and other biomarker data on people with mild cognitive impairment, mild Alzheimer’s disease, and in cognitively normal people as controls. This involves valuation of the efficacy of the drug BAN2401 in participants with early Alzheimer’s disease by comparing BAN2401 with placebo.
  • Participation in a national study, TRAILBLAZER-ALZ 2. The focus of this study is to see how safe and effective the drug, donanemab, is in participants with early Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers in the Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics (DNET) are working on several Alzheimer's-related studies, including some funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Biomedical research projects being conducted in the research labs at Albany Medical College include:


  • $8 million NIH Grant Supports Multi-Institutional Alzheimer’s Research:  As part of a multi-institution collaboration, scientists at Albany Medical College were 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 Albany Med Team is joined by associates from Washington University in St. Louis and the University of California, San Francisco. The researchers use large-scale, CRISPR-based 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, they will seek to understand how these genes act to alter the disease’s progression.
  • Examining the Relationship Between Menopause and Alzheimer’s Disease: Exciting research that seeks to understand the effects of menopause on Alzheimer’s disease is being explored by Kristen Zuloaga, PhD, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics at Albany Medical College, and recipient of a 2021 Research Grant Award from the Alzheimer’s Association. The research is focused on determining the effects of menopause on memory and damage to the brain. It is also looking at whether increasing estrogen in the brain after menopause can improve memory and reduce damage.

Brain autopsy is one of the most important contributions to research. By studying the brains of people with memory problems or cognitive disorders, we are able to expand our knowledge of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and frontotemporal lobar degeneration and take steps toward prevention and treatment.

Performing a brain autopsy following death can reduce a family’s uncertainty about the cause of a loved one’s dementia while providing an important contribution to science for study of causes and potential cures.

Discussing brain autopsy ahead of time with family, physicians, and staff can help to ensure preparedness. Consent for autopsy is given in writing after death by the authorized next of kin. The decision on brain autopsy is one that is private and highly personal. We can help you think through the process and facilitate and autopsy, but we respect your final decision.

Call us at 518-262-0800 or talk to a staff member when you are at the Alzheimer's Center for more information.