The National Institutes of Health has renewed funding to the Indiana Alzheimer Disease Center at Indiana University School of Medicine for the fifth consecutive five-year term, awarding the center its largest grant yet of $9.1 million.
The grant will enable the Indiana center’s scientists and doctors to continue their work in state-of-the-art research aimed at developing better understanding of the causes and potential treatments for Alzheimer disease and other dementias, said Bernardino Ghetti, M.D., the center director.
The center also offers a variety of educational and outreach programs, including an annual spring educational symposium with sessions for scientists, health care providers and caregivers.
The funding renewal marks the 20th anniversary of the center being named an NIH-designated and funded Alzheimer disease center. As one of 29 such centers in the U.S., the Indiana Alzheimer Disease Center’s investigators tackle a broad range of dementia-related issues and have developed a reputation for specialized expertise in several areas:
• Hereditary Alzheimer disease: In these forms, symptoms of the disease appear frequently at much younger ages than in the forms of the disease that affect the elderly. The center’s researchers and physicians have been working with some families for as long as 35 years.
• Frontotemporal dementias: These are a group of brain disorders that affect the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain and sometimes are misdiagnosed as Alzheimer disease. These areas of the brain are functionally involved in reasoning, emotions and memory. Center researchers have helped identify several genetic mutations associated with such dementias. Also, the center hosted the 7th International Conference on Frontotemporal Dementias in October 2010.
• Prion diseases: These are progressive neurodegenerative disorders associated with abnormal forms of the prion protein in the brain. Center researchers have identified the genetic underpinnings for various forms of prion disease.
Recent dementia research has enabled investigators and physicians to recognize that there are many different types of Alzheimer disease and dementias, said Dr. Ghetti, Distinguished Professor, Indiana University, and Chancellor’s Professor, Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis.