New Penn Center to Lead U.S. Alzheimer’s Disease Research Coordination

With a $10.8 million grant from the NIH, the new Genomics Center aims to develop interventions for the disease.

Clinical Research Building of the Perelman School of Medicine | Photo by Hazmat2 via Wikimedia Commons

Clinical Research Building of the Perelman School of Medicine | Photo by Hazmat2 via Wikimedia Commons

Philadelphia will soon be home to what may become the world’s premier center for Alzheimer’s disease research coordination.

Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania announced on Wednesday that they will establish the Coordinating Center for Genetics and Genomics of Alzheimer’s Disease, a joint venture with five other institutions in the U.S. including Boston University, Case Western Reserve University, Columbia University, the University of Miami and the University of Indiana.

A projected $10.8 million grant from The National Institute on Aging, an arm of the National Institutes on Health will fund the partners of the Penn-based Genomics Center. Penn will receive $4.5 million from the grant.

The new center’s goal is to stimulate collaboration between hundreds of national and international Alzheimer’s genetics researchers by collecting and analyzing large data sets and sharing results, said Gerard D. Schellenberg, a professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine who will lead the center with Li-San Wang, an associate professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Adding, “By coordinating the identification of Alzheimer-related genes, the Center’s team aims to find new therapeutic targets to reduce the economic and human burden caused by the disease.”

The researchers recognize that there is no way to prevent the progressive neurodegenerative disorder now, but the discovery of genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s is bringing them closer to how the genes work together and may help identify successful interventions.

The establishment of the Genomics Center is timely with the nation’s push for breakthroughs against the disease that affects as many as five million seniors. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease seeks to effectively prevent and treat the disease by 2025.

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