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NCRAD: Increasing infrastructure for Alzheimer’s disease researchers

Cerise Elliott
Program Director,
Division of Neuroscience (DN)

The research community understands that progress toward the goal of treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (AD/ADRD) by 2025 is often incremental. But for people with these diseases and their loved ones, time is of the essence. The National Centralized Repository for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (NCRAD) is an NIA-supported resource to help scientists accelerate and streamline their efforts. NCRAD has grown significantly since we last blogged about it, so we wanted to highlight its latest offerings that could make a big difference in your team’s future investigations.

A long history of AD/ADRD biobanking

First funded in 1990, NCRAD is now one of the largest biorepositories in the field. It serves AD/ADRD scientists by banking a wide range of biospecimens, including samples from more than 93,000 participants and 45 NIA-supported studies. Sample types at NCRAD include DNA, RNA, plasma, serum, lymphoblastoid cell lines, peripheral blood mononuclear cells, fibroblasts, induced pluripotent stem cells, cerebrospinal fluid, brain tissue, and stool. Thanks to recent increases in AD/ADRD research funding, NCRAD already has more than 1 million samples!

Studies banking with NCRAD utilize standard protocols that are clearly delineated and readily available to studies and sites collecting samples. To ensure uniform sample collection, NCRAD establishes procedures and provides training via webinars that are recorded and available on the NCRAD website. NCRAD also provides research teams with kits that include all the needed materials for collecting samples and shipping them back to NCRAD.

Quality control for stem cell lines

A new NCRAD-banked resource is induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Investigators deposit iPSCs derived from participants with AD/ADRD as well as from healthy controls. NCRAD’s quality control measures and standardized culture conditions help minimize the great variability found in contributed iPSC lines. Main NCRAD goals are to ease the distribution burden for investigators and to provide standardized, high-quality iPSCs to the research community.

More genetic data available for banked studies

Through a collaboration with NIAGADS (the NIA Genetics of Alzheimer’s Disease Data Storage Site), NCRAD supports state-of-the-art genome and genotyping arrays for samples in several new studies. These studies include the 90+ Study, a longitudinal study of aging and cognition of participants over age 90, and the ANGI (Amyloid Neuroimaging and Genetics Initiative) Study, an add-on for participants in the Imaging Dementia-Evidence for Amyloid Scanning (IDEAS) Study. The ANGI study paired DNA with the clinical and imaging data collected in the IDEAS Study. The genome-wide association study (GWAS) data for both these studies are available through NIAGADS.

Requesting samples from NCRAD is easy!

The NCRAD website features webinars about the process for requesting samples and its online 90+ Study and ANGI catalog systems. To learn more, email and follow @NCRAD_AD on Twitter.

Editor’s Note: This post details a significant data sharing resource for NIA supported scientists. Learn more about forthcoming NIA and NIH requirements on data sharing for all applicants and grantees.

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