University of Florida Health

 and Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach have received funding from the National Institutes of Health to establish an Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.


“The state of Florida is one of the epicenters of the Alzheimer’s epidemic, with something like 500,000 people diagnosed with the disease,” said Todd Golde, M.D., the director of the UF Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Disease. “From a demographic point of view, we really need an Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.”


The Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers, or ADRC, are a network of organizations across the United States funded by the National Institute on Aging and the National Institutes of Health. Investigators at the centers aim to turn research into better diagnosis and care for people with Alzheimer’s. While Mayo Clinic has an Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center satellite center in Jacksonville, Florida, the UF/Mount Sinai newly funded center will be the only fully staffed ADRC located in Florida, and one of only 30 ADRCs in the United States.


“Mount Sinai Medical Center is proud to partner with the University of Florida to establish Florida’s only fully-staffed Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center,” said Mount Sinai president and chief executive officer Steven D. Sonenreich. “Through this initiative, we will be able to translate research advances into improved diagnosis and care for people in Florida battling the disease.”


The center has received initial funding for $1.5 million for the first year, with expectation of renewal for five years total. The funding will support five cores within the center, including an administration, clinical, neuropathology, data management and statistics and outreach, recruitment and education core.


A major focus of the news center will be to study Hispanic patients with Alzheimer’s disease and compare them with non-Hispanics with the disease, said Ranjan Duara, M.D., medical director of the Wien Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders at Mount Sinai Medical Center, associate director of the ADRC and director of the clinical core based at Mount Sinai.


“In Florida we have a very diverse population who have different lifestyles, speak different languages, have varying cultures, levels of education, and levels of stress,” said Duara. “Although this poses challenges in determining the correct diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and its rate of progression, it can also help us better understand how these factors influence the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease and how it progresses.”


The center will also focus on diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia at an earlier stage, and providing those patients with state-of-the-art care. David Loewenstein, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, the director of the Psychological Services and Neuropsychology Laboratory at Mount Sinai Medical Center and a co-director of the clinical core, will develop a study to assess the earliest manifestations of Alzheimer’s disease.

“The push is to ask ourselves, ‘Can we detect Alzheimer’s disease earlier and earlier in the population?’” Golde said. “What we’d like to do is prevent people from even getting dementia rather than trying to cure brain organ failure.”


The rest of the cores, which are based at UF but are staffed in collaboration with Mount Sinai, will work together with the clinical core to provide educational resources and support for the recruitment of patients and educational resources. The data management core will corral information generated by studies in the clinical and neuropathology cores, manage all the data and perform the necessary analyses. This will help the researchers study the information gleaned from the clinical core and compile a database of patients with Alzheimer’s disease across Florida. Golde and Duara will also oversee the administrative core, which will develop a pilot grant program to provide funding for junior researchers with an interest in studying Alzheimer’s disease, for two to three small research projects per year.


Another $1 million from the state of Florida, secured by state Reps. Erik Fresen, Matt Hudson and Fresen’s aide David Winialski, will augment aspects of the neuropathology and education cores.


Researchers with Florida International and Florida Atlantic universities are also involved with the center. The NIH’s NIA funded the center under award number P50AG047266.

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