“This historic grant is a direct reflection of the world-class physicians who call the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Psychiatry home,” said Anantha Shekhar, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice chancellor for the health sciences. “I look forward to seeing their talents in action—and the University’s mission of creating and leveraging knowledge for society’s gain in full swing—in the years to come.”
“Adults with Down syndrome are at high risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease because of their unique biology, usually starting in their late 40s, and the vast majority of individuals with Down syndrome will eventually develop the disease by their late 60s,” said principal investigator Benjamin Handen, Ph.D.
, professor of psychiatry at Pitt. “It’s a significant problem for that population. We think that what we learn from the biomarkers in people with Down syndrome can help them, and also the general population in terms of how we can intervene. We’re hoping this research will guide us toward prevention and treatment trials.”
These institutions have a legacy group of individuals who already are participants for Alzheimer’s disease and Down syndrome research. Some of these participants will join this study, and this new funding will help recruit hundreds of new individuals over the next five years.
“It’s very exciting that the National Institutes of Health is investing in the science and infrastructure to strengthen our relationship with the Down syndrome community,” said Ann D. Cohen, Ph.D.
, associate professor of psychiatry at Pitt who is leading outreach efforts in this study through the Alzheimer's Biomarkers Consortium — Down Syndrome Outreach, Recruitment and Education Core
. “Things like developing novel recruitment strategies and increasing efforts to connect with a diverse population of people with Down syndrome will contribute to better science and help researchers understand what the Down syndrome community needs from us.”
The research teams will assess and examine a wide range of data from plasma-based biomarkers to biofluids, genetic factors, neuroimaging and everyday cognitive and psychological function. Researchers will see participants every 16 months for up to four visits.
This research will be funded by NIH grant U19AG068054.
CREDIT: University of Pittsburgh
CAPTION: Benjamin Handen, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.