Research and Funding

Division of Neuroscience

Alzheimer's Disease Centers (ADCs)

There are currently 31 ADCs receiving funding from NIA. (View full list) Many important milestones in Alzheimer's disease research in the United States during the last 18 years stem from resources provided by the ADCs, including:

  • Linkage and cloning of genes on Chromosomes 21,14, and 1 in familial Alzheimer's disease
  • Subsequent studies on the processing of proteins coded by these genes
  • Identification of the inherited risk factor, Apolipoprotein E

Much of the work related to processing proteins important for neuritic plaque and neurofibrillary tangle formation—including the recent discovery of α-synuclein in Lewy Body Dementia and the recognition of the common properties of the abnormal proteins associated with neurodegenerative diseases, the amyloids—has been conducted in the ADCs. Important clinico-pathological correlational studies relating changes of brain structure to different stages of Alzheimer's disease are being conducted in many ADCs using patients enrolled in the clinical cores, imaging supported by imaging cores, and autopsy evaluation in neuropathology cores. In recent years, increased emphasis has been placed on the evaluation of cognition in normal aging and the transition to mild cognitive impairment and early dementia correlated with the search for factors that contribute to the various cognitive states. ADCs also are placing more emphasis on collaborative trans-Center projects.

In addition to direct support through research and pilot research projects, the ADCs provide resources from which other research projects (e.g., the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study) can draw, such as:

  • Access to patient and family data
  • Brain and other tissue samples
  • Molecular probes

In 2002, NIA launched a late-onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD) genetics initiative, and the ADCs are playing a significant role. ADCs are: (1) recruiting multiplex families; (2) collecting clinical data and blood samples from the family members; and (3) providing DNA and cell lines with phenotypic data to the research community through the National Cell Repository for Alzheimer’s Disease.