The University Record, May 9, 1994

$10.5 million grant will aid Alzheimer’s research

The Medical Center has been awarded $10.5 million to continue the work of the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (MADRC). The five-year grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) of the National Institutes of Health will expand both research and clinical activities at the Medical Center and throughout the state.

Under the direction of principal investigator Sid Gilman, chair of the Department of Neurology, the MADRC will enhance services for patients with Alzheimer’s disease while gathering large amounts of data on the condition and other forms of dementia. “We look forward to expanding our scientific program and supportive core services. All the members of our group are highly

enthusiastic about the future of the MADRC,” Gilman said.

The new grant, which begins in June, will increase the number of research projects from three to six. These projects address neurodegenerative diseases in a comprehensive manner, including clinical and post-mortem studies of afflicted persons, animal models for study of pathophysiology, neuropsychology, biostatistics and assessment of the public knowledge of and attitudes toward dementia and utilization of services for dementia in the state of Michigan.

The clinical part of this major grant brings the resources of the MADRC to underserved people in rural Northern Michigan and urban sites in Detroit. Among the tools of the MADRC clinical core are positron emission tomography (PET) scans to analyze the changes in brain activity involved in dementia.

The center’s emphasis is on basic research that will lead to a better understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. It is one of 14 centers carrying out research and 28 total centers nationwide supported by the NIA.

Alzheimer’s disease is a treatable but irreversible condition that causes progressive intellectual and memory loss, resulting in altered behavior and loss of motor skills and cognitive abilities such as reading and writing.

The cause of the disease is unknown, but there is a strong genetic influence and advancing age is a risk factor.

An estimated 120,000 people in Michigan and 4 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers think that within 40 years, more than 10 million Americans may be affected. Alzheimer’s disease is responsible for up to 60 percent of disabling dementia.

Other forms of dementia, including those associated with Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and multiple small strokes, also will be studied by MADRC researchers.