The central theme of the UT Southwestern ADC is that vascular and inflammatory risk factors in elderly individuals influence the course of AD, MCI and FTLD, and that such factors constitute endophenotypes. A requirement of such endophenotypes is that they be measurable by quantitative psychometric, physiologic, neuroimaging, or biochemical methods. Over the next 5 years, the Clinical Core will carry out studies aimed at developing methods to study these vascular and inflammatory endophenotypes and assess their contribution to AD, MCI, FTLD and normal aging. Our specific hypothesis is that the age of onset and rate of progression of patients presenting with early-stage AD (including MCI) and FTLD are related to the presence of vascular and inflammatory endophenotypes. This hypothesis reflects the interests of Center investigators as well as the expertise of other investigators at UT Southwestern Medical Center. While this theme is our focus, the UTSW ADC also functions the academic home of dementia-related research on campus, and works to foster and support investigator-initiated research projects at UTSW and related institutions. This includes creating a forum for interactions among scientists from various departments and facilitating research across disciplines. The UTSW ADC runs a highly successful Pilot Grants Program, which has attracted promising young investigators to the field who have gone on to win independent extramural funding. Finally, the UTSW ADC continues its productive participation by UT Southwestern in multi-institutional collaborative studies.
The development of successful therapies for Alzheimer's disease (AD) will require a thorough understanding of the pathologic mechanisms that contribute to neurodegeneration. Data from epidemiologic and observational studies indicates that vascular and inflammatory pathology contributes to AD. The goal of the UTSW ADC is to identify biomarkers of vascular and inflammatory pathology that will be useful for selection of participants in clinical trials.
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