The Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) focuses on the study normal aging and treatment of dementia, as well as other memory disorders. Our Center is organized around seven cores or specialty areas, and an education component targeting advanced trainees.
The Administrative Core is under the direction of Mary Sano, PhD, with the assistance of the Associate Directors of the ADRC: Samuel Gandy, MD, PhD, Alison Goate, and Patrick R. Hof, MD. This core integrates scientific, administrative, and clerical activities, sets the research direction for the ADRC, and fosters development of new research and new researchers. We aid in the submission of pilot projects and facilitate support for Alzheimer’s disease research that is not directly funded by the ADRC through sharing resources. We facilitate interactions among our cores and projects, as well among other Alzheimer’s Disease Centers (ADC’s), the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Studies (ADCS), Alzheimer’s Therapeutics Research Institute studies (ATRI), and Alzheimer’s disease-based research and service groups. We have also collaborated in several projects submitted to the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center (NACC), in cooperation with other Alzheimer’s Disease Centers.
The Biomarker Core
The Biomarker Core, led by Trey Hedden, PhD, is focused on applying research on biomarkers obtained from neuroimaging, cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF), or blood to accurately diagnose Alzheimer's disease as early as possible, to characterize disease heterogeneity, and to accelerate progress toward prevention and treatment. We provide collaboration and services for biomarker collection and analysis from participants in the ADRC cohort maintained by the Clinical Core, from participants newly recruited by the Outreach, Recruitment, and Engagement Core, and from the broader patient population served by the Mount Sinai community. We provide expertise and recommendations to researchers and clinicians for the inclusion of neuroimaging, CSF, or blood biomarkers in studies and clinical trials. We provide training focused on neuroimaging biomarkers for ADRC trainees and consultation services for investigators new to Alzheimer's disease research. We promote sharing of data and informatics through interactions with the Data Core and with Alzheimer's disease researchers across the institution. Collaboration with the Genetics and Genomics Core provides the opportunity to identify genetic factors contributing to biomarker evidence for risk of developing Alzheimer's disease or potential resilience to the disease. The Biomarker Core broadly supports the integration of biomarker acquisition and analysis into ADRC activities with the aim of accelerating our ability to diagnose Alzheimer's disease, to differentiate potential contributing factors, and to more precisely target interventions toward those most likely to benefit.
The Clinical Core, Directed by Mary Sano, PhD and Co-Directed by Hillel Grossman, MD and Judith Neugroshl MD, performs comprehensive clinical and neuropsychological patient evaluations, coordinates data transfer to the Data Management Core, and conducts longitudinal follow-up of AD and non-demented individuals. We coordinate recruitment of subjects for our ADRC, ADCS, and other studies and pilot studies, some of which are funded by the National Institutes of Health. We train a wide range of individuals in data collection and recruit for possible participation in the autopsy program.
Data Management Core
Directed by Carolyn Zhu PhD and Co-Directed by Patricia-Kovatch, the Data Management Core receives, stores, catalogues, tracks, and integrates data generated by the cores and other ADRC projects. The core advises on statistical analysis and develops statistical tools and techniques to advance research. The core has developed a highly secure data management infrastructure in the form of a data warehouse system within the Department of Psychiatry. We provide seamless integration of data acquired by ADRC cores and projects with NACC data sets and can offer turn-key generation of data sets to accommodate NACC data calls. We integrate data resulting from the Clinical Core and Neuropathology Cores into a centralized resource that enhances cross-fertilization of projects and provides ready access to all investigators.
Genetics and Genomics Core
The Genetics and Genomics Core, directed by Alison Goate, D.Phil., coordinates with the Clinical Core to collect biospecimens from all consented ADRC participants and maintains a repository and a database of the stored biological materials. We generate genetic and genomic information on samples of cognitively normal and demented individuals who are being studied as part of funded longitudinal studies of aging and dementia and provide easy access to genomic data on these subjects. Genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array data and APOE genotype data are available on most ADRC participants. In addition to maintaining a local database within the core, we provide these data to the Data Management Core. It is anticipated that collection of these data will facilitate clinical and basic science investigations of the pathogenesis of AD. The Genetics and Genomics Core also contributes to the efforts of the Outreach, Recruitment, and Education Core by providing laboratory training for students participating in the ISMMS ADRC summer internship program.
The Outreach, Recruitment, and Engagement Core
The Outreach, Recruitment and Engagement Core, Directed by Margaret Sewell, PhD and Co-Directed by Judith Neugroschl, MD, provides targeted outreach to a culturally, racially and cognitively diverse group of elders to insure recruitment and retention for investigators in the ADRC and allied collaborators. Our activities are well-integrated with the other Cores and our accomplishments have been achieved through close collaboration with other departments at the Mount Sinai Health System, and a number of community organizations. The Core disseminates information widely and explains new knowledge to professionals, trainees and the lay public. This is accomplished by providing stimulating outreach programs in English, Spanish and Chinese that include the presence of our Community Advisory Board, brain health seminars, new written and web-based information, community events publicizing developments in dementia research and a College Summer Internship program. The Core is working to accomplish targeted recruitment in part by creating an Accelerator comprised of researchers, community stakeholders, clinicians, caregivers and diverse community elders to identify research priorities, address barriers to research participation and guide the development of recruitment strategies and tools to serve the Clinical Core and other allied researchers.
Directed by Vahram Haroutunian, PhD and Co-Directed by John Crary MD, PhD, the Neuropathology Core obtains autopsy-derived brain specimens from individuals who have been evaluated and followed longitudinally by the Clinical Core. We strive to obtain the brain specimens with the shortest postmortem interval; our mean postmortem interval is less than six hours. We dissect and preserve the specimens to maximize their utility for proposed experiments within the center as well as other AD and aging-related research projects. We carry out a detailed neuropathologic work-up to establish a neuropathologic diagnosis as well as to document the extent and distribution of relevant neuropathologic lesions and enter all data into an extensive database that can be integrated into the clinical database for cliniconeuropathologic correlative investigations. The tissues collected have been used extensively in a wide range of studies. Researchers within the ADRC, in the greater Mount Sinai research community, and by other researchers nationally and internationally request them frequently.
Research Education Component
The Research Education Component (REC), under the direction of Nikolaos Robakis, Ph.D., and Stephen Salton M.D., Ph.D., provides critically needed training for junior faculty, senior postdoctoral fellows, and clinical research track residents and fellows, to conduct research on Alzheimer’s disease-related disorders (ADRD). The REC supports trainees to conduct research and provides advanced training in approaches and methodologies needed to conduct high quality, ethical, and multidisciplinary research on ADRD disorders. Trainees are provided with at least two interdisciplinary mentors, and an individually tailored career development plan as well as multiple forums that will encourage development of trainee presentation skills. The REC assists trainees in the process of submitting and obtaining external grant funding that is appropriate for their career stage (e.g. K award for postdocs and clinical fellows, or R21/RO1 for junior faculty) and helps them be able to sustain long-term academic careers as independent investigators and future leaders in the basic, translational, and clinical research of ADRDs. Through the participation of distinguished senior faculty mentors in an intellectually and technologically rich academic environment at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS), the REC also helps support gifted and highly motivated junior investigators who are new to ADRD research.