- By Lynda de Widt
State grants boost Alzheimer’s research on Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus
Alzheimer’s disease is ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., affecting more than 5 million people, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. In Florida, more than 19 percent of the population is 65 and older ─ the highest percentage in the nation—according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014 population estimates.
Recently, the Florida Department of Health recognized researchers at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus for their commitment to find ways to prevent and hopefully cure the progressive neurological disease that notoriously strikes this demographic.
Grants totaling $842,000 were awarded to Mark Ebbert, Ph.D., Chia-Chen Liu, Ph.D., John Lucas, Ph.D., Heather Melrose, Ph.D., Melissa Murray, Ph.D., through the Ed and Ethel Moore Alzheimer’s Disease Research Program.
Passed by the Florida Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott in 2014, the state program supports research for better prevention, diagnosis, treatments and cures for Alzheimer’s disease.
The research on Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus will focus on:
- Identifying structural gene mutations involved in Alzheimer’s disease development and progression
- Understanding how disease-associated gene mutation affects the functions of microglia, a major cell type controlling brain defense and immune system in the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease, leading to new disease-modifying therapies
- Reaching a deeper understanding of how diseases of the brain, especially Alzheimer’s, differ across different ethno-racial groups
- Measuring the effect of a new community engagement approach on the care and well-being of African-Americans with dementia and their care partners
- Testing whether abnormal movement of a protein in the brain that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease can be corrected
The awards followed a peer-reviewed and competitive grant application process during which the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Grant Advisory Board evaluated applications and selected more than 30 studies statewide.
The research grants will allow Mayo Clinic researchers to continue their commitment to transforming the practice of medicine through team science. Bridging basic science discoveries into clinical trials and advancing innovation to patient care faster is the ultimate goal—and the focus of the Mayo Model of Research.
Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus is positioned with world-renowned experts; resources, such as a 5,000-specimen brain bank for studying neurodegenerative disorders; and collaborations with clinical colleagues. These resources make Mayo’s Department of Neuroscience a world leader in its field.
In addition, Mayo Clinic is one of two medical institutions in Florida and one of three in the Southeast that are funded by the National Institute on Aging as Alzheimer’s Disease Centers.
Read more in Discovery’s Edge.