Federal Funding Renewed for Additional Five Years

August 23, 2021

Ann Arbor, MI – Federal funding has been confirmed to expand a collaboration between the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University that aims to accelerate progress in Alzheimer’s disease research.

The National Institutes of Health will award an estimated $15.3 million over the next five years to continue and expand research operations that enhance the understanding and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD). These funds will be used to facilitate a wide range of studies – ranging from basic science to clinical trials to caregiver interventions – as well as to enhance public and professional education about ADRD.

This grant maintains Michigan’s role in the national Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) network – a network of 31 ADRCs that together work toward the national strategy to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025.

Within the national network, the Michigan ADRC is distinctive in bringing together the three regents universities in Michigan to combine expertise, outreach, and efforts toward a truly statewide approach to supporting the national mission of Alzheimer’s disease treatment and prevention. In its research, the Michigan ADRC emphasizes a “beyond amyloid” theme that investigate many avenues of disease prevention and treatment outside of the hallmark beta-amyloid protein.

Dr. Henry Paulson, Center Director and Lucile Groff Professor of Neurology, shares more about the importance of the non-amyloid center theme, “We believe much more attention needs to be paid to other factors and proteins underlying various dementias, ranging from environmental factors, to genetics, to specific molecules like tau, which is the other hallmark protein of Alzheimer’s disease. You may have heard that an anti-amyloid medication, Aducanumab (Aduhelm), recently received accelerated approval from the FDA for Alzheimer’s disease. It remains to be seen whether this medication will be a “game changer” in Alzheimer’s. In my view, the existence of Aduhelm underscores the importance of continuing to look for other therapeutic targets in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia. We are excited to embrace that challenge at the Michigan ADRC!”

This new grant will fund several new activities. First, the development of a Neuroimaging Core which will collect and analyze brain imaging data to increase understanding of the causes of dementia, including underlying racial disparities – a critical need for the dementia field in which African Americans are almost twice as likely to develop dementia, while Hispanic Americans are 1.5 times as likely.  

Second, the grant will fund a Biomarker Core based at Michigan State University’s Grand Rapids campus which will drive work in peripheral blood biomarker discovery and validation. The development of blood-based biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias is expected to greatly improve precision in diagnosing and treating the various dementias.

Finally, an important part of the nation’s strategy for eliminating Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias is to support and mentor junior research investigators in getting involved in dementia research. This funding will support the development of a Leaders Initiative through which 11 investigators across University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University will take on leadership roles across the center.

If you would more information, please contact Erin Fox at eefox@med.umich.edu or 734-232-2459.