University of Florida awarded $7.7 million grant for Alzheimer’s research

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September is World Alzheimer’s Awareness month, so this news could not have come at a better time.  Yesterday, the National Institutes of Health and National Institute on Aging fulfilled a promise that director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, made at the Alzheimer’s Association advocacy forum in April: a commitment of an additional $45 million in funds to advance research. 

The University of Florida Health researchers have ensured that a sizeable portion of these dollars are directed to the Sunshine State with the announcement of an NIH grant award of $7.7 million over five years beginning with $1.6 million for fiscal year 2013.

UF researchers, in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic Florida and Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, will generate RNA sequences for every gene expressed in the human brain and will combine large data sets from human and mouse models to illuminate patterns that point to potential therapies.

The teams will look at how genetic alternations to the body’s immune system may be implicated in Alzheimer’s disease and then manipulate these pathways in mouse models.

“If you liken this project to creating a new road map, we will have laid down half the map in the first year,” said Dr. Todd Golde, director of the UF Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Medicine. “During year two, we will be completing the map, learning to drive and figuring out the best route to take toward therapeutic solutions. At the end of five years, we hope to have advanced one to three targets for possible therapies.”

There is a massive unmet need for Alzheimer’s disease research funding. While it has become the most costly disease to the nation, Alzheimer’s has not received anywhere near proportional funding toward finding treatments or cures.

To participate in Florida’s Alzheimer’s research efforts, consider supporting the Florida State University College of Medicine Center for Brain Repair’s newly created research fund — it is named for my father, and their team is working on some phenomenal and promising projects!