The Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research (NKI) announced this week that it secured $20 million in federal grant funding to support Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) research. Five multi-year grants were recently awarded to three research scientists at the Institute’s Center for Dementia Research (CDR). These awards include a prestigious Program Project Grant awarded to the CDR’s Director, Ralph Nixon, PhD., MD. Program Project Grants, funded by the National Institute of Health, support multiple teams of researchers, who closely collaborate using complementary approaches to clarify a fundamental aspect of AD that holds special promise for understanding its causes and developing novel therapies. The CDR Program Project addresses prominent defects appearing early in AD that hinder the ability of brain cells to eliminate “cellular garbage,” which is the damaged and potentially toxic cell material that accumulates as the brain ages and faces other disease risk factors. The discovery by CDR scientists of this striking failure of cellular clearance in AD brains has stimulated research world-wide, revealing promising new targets for drug development to slow or prevent AD. “We are gratified that NIH places strong confidence in the AD research programs at the CDR and their promise for pioneering innovative, more effective therapies for AD and related dementias.” said Dr. Nixon, who is also a member of NYS Coordinating Council for Services Related to Alzheimer’s Disease.
Two other CDR researchers, Efrat Levy, PhD and Helen Scharfman PhD., have been awarded grants from the National Institute on Aging. Dr. Levy received funding for her work in studying the mechanisms by which a genetic variant might inhibit the formation of amyloid beta, which is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Sharfman’s work seeks to understand why certain neurons in the brain’s memory center become abnormally hyper-active, even before clinical symptoms of AD develop. In addition to the funding for their AD research, Dr. Levy and Dr. Scharfman also received funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Mental Health respectively, in support of complementary studies.
The awards were announced during a visit by New York State Senator David Carlucci to NKI at which CDR scientists presented their work and provided a tour of their laboratories. Senator Carlucci’s appropriation in a past state budget for a state-of-the-art microscope was an important factor that helped NKI investigators garner these highly-competitive federal research grants.
“We are very proud of the scientific progress that Dr. Nixon and his team are making, and are very appreciative of Senator Carlucci’s support. We believe this research will lead to new methods for early diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease in the future” said Dr. Donald Goff, Director of the Nathan Kline Institute.
PRESS RELEASE FROM NY OFFICE OF MENTAL HEALTH