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  • Posted Friday December 3, 2021

TGen is among the participants receiving a $15.7 million NIH grant for the Arizona Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center

Grant will continue to support Arizona’s leadership roles in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Dec. 3, 2021 — The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), an affiliate of City of Hope, is one of seven institutions across Arizona sharing a prestigious grant expected to total $15.7 million over five years from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to provide continued support for the Arizona Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC).

Matt Huentelman, Ph.D., TGen Professor of Neurogenomics, is a co-leader of one of the six core groups of Arizona’s ADRC.

"I am thrilled to continue to contribute our expertise to the Arizona Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center as members of the Biomarker Core. This core has a focus on identifying new ways to predict one's risk for Alzheimer's disease using multiple cutting-edge approaches including blood tests, brain scans, and DNA assessments,” Dr. Huentelman said. “Additionally, we help empower the study of Alzheimer's disease across the nation by providing biological specimens and data to qualified researchers with new testable ideas."

ADRCs are congressionally designated NIH Centers of Excellence. They play crucial roles in the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, the advancement of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias research and care, and the effort to find effective ways to treat and prevent these devastating diseases as soon as possible.

Since becoming the first multi-institutional research program to receive an ADRC grant in 2001, Arizona has become the most extensive statewide collaboration in Alzheimer’s research in the nation. The Arizona ADRC has made ground-breaking contributions in the early detection diagnosis, study, and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, studies of the aging mind and brain, and the roles of brain imaging and emerging blood-based biomarkers in these endeavors.

The new ADRC grant will help establish the role of promising blood tests in Alzheimer’s research, clinical trials, and clinical care, and will support Arizona’s efforts to help find effective prevention therapies by 2025. In addition, it will support Arizona’s pioneering contributions to Alzheimer’s research and care in several important ways by:

  • Introducing and supporting the development of talented researchers and clinicians from diverse backgrounds to Alzheimer’s disease research and care.
  • Providing education programs and outreach services for people affected by the disease including their family caregivers, programs to raise awareness about research opportunities for people with and without the disease and foster the inclusion of individuals from Arizona’s Hispanic/Latino, Native American, and other underrepresented communities.
  • Generating and providing widely shared resources of data and biological samples from annually assessed research participants, supporting hundreds of researchers inside the state and around the world.

“We could not be more grateful to our participating researchers and institutions, the state and NIH for the chance to make a profound difference in Alzheimer’s disease research and care,” said Eric Reiman, M.D., director of the NIA-supported Arizona ADRC and executive director of Banner Alzheimer’s Institute. “In addition to our other goals, we hope to become a go-to resource for the development of promising blood tests, find effective Alzheimer’s prevention therapies within the next five years, and capitalize on our ADRC resources to support these endeavors.”

The Arizona ADRC includes researchers from seven organizations: TGen, Arizona State University (ASU), Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, Banner Sun Health Research Institute, Barrow Neurological Institute, Mayo Clinic Arizona, and the University of Arizona (UArizona). Together, they provide shared resources to support the detection, tracking, diagnosis, study, treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, the training of researchers and clinicians from diverse backgrounds, and the inclusion of persons from underrepresented groups through seven core areas. These core areas include:

  • The Biomarker Core led by Dr. Gene Alexander from UArizona, and co-led by Dr. Huentelman from TGen; Drs. Atri and Thomas Beach from Banner Sun Health Research Institute; and Dr. Yi Su from Banner Alzheimer’s Institute. It oversees the acquisition and analysis amyloid and tau PET scans, MRIs, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), blood samples and DNA, provides a shared resource of biological specimens for the field, and will provide a go-to resource for the diagnostic validation of emerging blood tests.
  • The Administrative Core led by Dr. Reiman from Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, and associate directors Dr. Richard Caselli from Mayo Clinic Arizona and Dr. Jessica Langbaum from Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, with additional leadership provided by Andrea Schmidt from Banner Alzheimer’s Institute. This core includes a Developmental Project Program led by UArizona’s Dr. Carol Barnes. It provides leadership, support, and the organizational structure for the statewide ADRC.
  • The Clinical Core led by Dr. Caselli and co-led by Dr. Alireza Atri from Banner Sun Health Research Institute. It includes five locations across Arizona which follow about 550 research participants per year (with and without the disease), many of whom donate their brains after they die.
  • The Data Management and Statistics Core led by Dr. Kewei Chen and co-led by Don Saner, both from Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, and includes multi-institutional data management and statistical teams to provide a shared resource of privacy protected data for the field, develop powerful data analysis tools, and provide data analysis services, mentorship and support for numerous researchers inside and outside the state.
  • The Neuropathology Core led by Banner Sun Health Research Institute’s by Drs. Beach and Geidy Serrano. It oversees a rapid brain and body donation program, provides comprehensive neuropathological assessments, and provides a resource of high-quality brain tissue to hundreds of researchers around the world each year.
  • The Outreach, Recruitment, and Engagement (ORE) Core led by Dr. David Coon from ASU’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation and Dr. Langbaum. It provides a wide range of education, outreach and engagement programs for people with and without the disease, their families, and professional caregivers, including those from Arizona’s rapidly growing Hispanic/Latino community, Native American communities, and other underrepresented groups. It works closely with the Clinical Core to support their inclusion in research studies to advance the fight against Alzheimer’s disease together.
  • The Research Education Component (REC) led by Dr. Roberta Brinton from UArizona and Dr. Heather Bimonte-Nelson from ASU. It provides education and innovative collaborative training opportunities for researchers and professional caregivers, including those from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented groups, to help establish the next generation of researchers.

The Arizona ADRC is funded by NIH grant P30AG072980.

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About TGen, an affiliate of City of Hope
Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based nonprofit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life-changing results. TGen is affiliated with City of Hope, a world-renowned independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases:  This precision medicine affiliation enables both institutes to complement each other in research and patient care, with City of Hope providing a significant clinical setting to advance scientific discoveries made by TGen. TGen is focused on helping patients with neurological disorders, cancer, diabetes and infectious diseases through cutting-edge translational research (the process of rapidly moving research toward patient benefit). TGen physicians and scientists work to unravel the genetic components of both common and complex rare diseases in adults and children. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities worldwide, TGen makes a substantial contribution to help our patients through efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. For more information, visit: Follow TGen on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter @TGen.

Media Contact:
Steve Yozwiak
TGen Senior Science Writer
[email protected]

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