Alzheimer's Disease Research
The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center is at the forefront of basic and clinical studies into the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. The Center’s faculty researchers are conducting state-of-the-art basic science, cognitive, brain imaging, and clinical studies to identify the causes and search for better treatments of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Plaques in the brain are a hallmark of AD, and the Center’s basic science researchers are investigating how these plaques are formed in the AD brain and identifying the mechanisms by which the plaques can impair brain function. They are also intensely exploring other AD-related damage in the brain, and they are developing treatments that may be able to protect brain cells from the devastation of this disease.
Other researchers at the Center are studying humans who are at risk for AD and related diseases to discover the earliest changes in memory and cognition that identify AD patients. These studies are also determining the impact of these changes on the daily lives of persons with memory disorders, and searching for new therapies that may delay or reduce the progressive damage to the brain of AD patients. We are especially interested in studying patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which is thought to be an early precursor to Alzheimer’s disease in some patients. Thus, some of the Center’s studies are focused on defining the linkages between MCI and AD. Both our clinical and research studies are also intensely examining linkages between AD and cardiovascular disease, including stroke.
Research at the Alzheimer’s Disease Center is interdisciplinary within the University and is carried out in collaboration with AD researchers throughout the world. For instance, the Center is a member of the nationwide Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), a multi-center, multi-year study aimed at determining if brain imaging techniques can be effectively used to diagnose early stages of AD. Other intermural research focuses on using MRI techniques to investigate risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in MCI. The Center also participates in the nationwide Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS), which links research institutions across the country to investigate treatments that are unlikely to be supported by drug companies, such as a recently conducted study to investigate the role of estrogen in Alzheimer’s disease. Center researchers also are constantly testing the latest AD treatments being developed by major international pharmaceutical companies, to optimize care for the Center’s ADC patients and to forge the path to improved treatments for AD.
Thus, the Center brings together a group of world-class researchers and clinicians to provide exceptional care for AD patients in the Southeast and to pursue discoveries of the causes, early identification and effective treatments of AD. UAB’s ADC faculty and staff are energetically committed to all of these critical arenas.