About the ADRC
The UCI ADRC was officially established in 1999, and has received a continuing annual appropriation of 1.2 million dollars from the National Institute on Aging. The UCI ADRC is one of several multi-disciplinary and multi-investigator grants that is administered by The Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders.
The Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders at UCI is one of 29 centers across the country to be designated and funded by the National Institute on Aging as an Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers (ADRC). The ADRC seeks to translate research advances into improved diagnosis and care for dementia patients, with the long-term goal of finding a way to cure and possibly prevent AD.
Areas of investigation range from the basic mechanisms of AD to managing the symptoms and helping families cope with the effects of the disease. The UCI ADRC faculty and staff conduct basic, clinical, and behavioral research and train scientists and health care providers who are new to AD research.
ADRC Mission Statement
The overall mission of the UC Irvine ADRC is to encourage multidisciplinary basic and targeted clinical studies into the mechanisms of neuronal dysfunction and degeneration resulting in age related cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Research is directed at discovering the cellular, molecular and clinical risk factors resulting in neuronal dysfunction and neuropathological features of the aging and AD brain, particularly in the oldest old. The ADRC seeks to encourage multidisciplinary basic science studies which will translate into clinical studies that will help define the issues and mechanisms at the basic science level.
The Center’s Administrative Core provides basic support for the other four Cores, and serves a high-level planning and coordinating function for all Center activities. The administrative structure consists of the Director, assisted by an Administrator, who oversees a full-time financial analyst and takes responsibility for fiscal and grant administrative aspects of the ADRC. The Director will be further informed and advised by several committees, including the Executive Committee, which advises on scientific and administrative decisions and the External Advisory Committee. The Administrative Core seeks to nurture the research goals of the Center, oversee Core operations and progress, recruit new investigators and continue to build the Center. The Core holds bimonthly ADRC meetings to provide an opportunity for Center investigators to evaluate progress, discuss new opportunities and set short and long terms goals on an ongoing basis. The Core monitors the Center’s fiscal integrity, compliance with regulatory requirements, and works with the UCI Administration to develop Institutional resources. Over the past five years, this infrastructure has promoted the production of over 160 peer-reviewed papers on aging and Alzheimer’s disease, recruited outstanding new faculty to UCI and the ADRC, supported new collaborative projects and generated over 38 million dollars of external funding.
The Administrative Core Leader is Dr. Carl Cotman.
The principal functions of the Clinical Core of the UCI ADRC are to recruit, characterize, and longitudinally follow subjects as part of our clinical and neurobiological investigations of aging and Alzheimer’s disease, and to provide a resource for all investigators involved in the study of aging and AD at UCI and nationally by providing well-characterized subjects for clinical trials, genetic studies, tissue repositories, and imaging protocols.
The Clinical Core has three cohorts of subjects:
- Clinical Cohort
- 90+ Autopsy Cohort
- Down Syndrome Cohort
These cohorts allow us to examine the cognitive states associated with old age and Down syndrome. The 90+ Autopsy Cohort provides unique opportunities to better understand the brain/behavior relationships and effects of aging in the most rapidly growing segment of the population, the oldest old. Our center also brings to the ADC system another unique cohort, the adult Down Syndrome Cohort. These subjects are followed with the same methodology used for all ADRC subjects, and provide opportunities for innovative investigations by our basic and clinical scientists. Brain donation is requested from all ADRC subjects, and is required on enrollment, except for DS subjects (50% autopsy participation) and minorities. We aggressively work to increase autopsy participation in these subjects.
The Clinical Core, with expertise in neurology, neuropsychology, and nursing, interacts closely with all ADRC cores, NACC, and local and national researchers. Supporting the ADRC’s experimental studies, the Clinical Core provides subjects and clinical data to Project 1, biological tissues and clinical data to Project 2, and human data for comparison studies in the transgenic investigations of Project 3. With our unique subject populations, the ADRC Clinical Core brings to UCI and the ADC system a central resource for innovative studies of aging and AD.
The Clinical Core Leader is Dr. Claudia Kawas
Education and Information Transfer (EIT) Core
The Education and Information Transfer (EIT) Core serves an integrative function for the ADRC, aiming to facilitate the recruitment and retention of subjects for the Clinical Core and Project 2; to support training and development of scientific investigators and professional clinicians in the AD field, and to conduct and coordinate outreach programs and activities to publicize the ADRC and educate families and caregivers. Recruitment of minority individuals for the Clinical Core will target the Hispanic and Asian populations predominantly, facilitated by our work with Latino Health Access, the Education and Multicultural Committee of the Alzheimer’s Association of Orange County (AAOC), and our minority assessment clinical site established at Adult Day Services of Orange County (ADSOC). In addition, we will include in our traditional recruitment efforts, attendance at minority-focused health fairs, and implementation of recruitment activities at previously untapped events such as the AAOC Memory Walk. In pursuit of its training and development function, the EIT Core will continue to use traditional educational techniques such as seminars, colloquia, community events, and research conferences for both lay and professional audiences. A key educational function of this Core is managing and/or augmenting various training programs, such as training grants, clerkships, fellowships, and reciprocal training exchanges with other ADCs.
The EIT Core Leader is Dr. Cordula Dick-Muehlke
The UCI ADRC Neuropathology Core (NP) plays a key role in providing high quality tissue resources to support research dedicated to the study of normal and pathological aging. To accomplish the ADRC goals, the NP Core interacts intimately with the Clinical, Data Management and Statistics (DMS), Education and Information Transfer (EIT), and Administrative cores. The NP Core generates resources to support the study of mechanisms of neurodegeneration and plasticity, with a focus on Alzheimer’s disease, other neurodegenerative diseases and the oldest old. The NP Core links clinical evaluations and diagnoses with definitive pathological diagnoses, and provides well-characterized tissue samples to basic scientists to stimulate and facilitate research in Alzheimer’s disease, other age-associated neurodegenerative diseases, and aging. Providing tissues that have been characterized clinically and neuropathologically draws in experienced researchers and attracts young investigators to the field. To achieve these goals, the Neuropathology Core has eight aims:
1. obtain brain tissue from ADRC subjects evaluated by the Clinical Core
2. provide accurate and timely final neuropathology diagnoses to families as well as to the Clinical, and DMS
3. maintain and continue to develop a Brain Tissue Repository that maximizes the use of tissue for diagnostic and research purposes
4. disseminate brain, plasma, serum, and cerebrospinal fluid samples from clinically characterized autopsy cases to investigators
5. develop custom peptides and antibodies to support dementia research, with an emphasis on beta-amyloid peptides and antibodies
6. develop, maintain and share an inventory of serum, plasma, and DNA samples from living subjects to support longitudinal studies
7. support a triple, double, and single transgenic mouse brain tissue inventory by banking tissues from different lines of mice at different ages and
8. provide biochemical measures of beta-amyloid on autopsy cases.
The Neuropathology Core leaders are Drs. David Cribbs and Ron Kim.
Both data management and biostatistics have become increasingly more important to productive research and the resulting understanding of Alzheimer’s disease. Previously considerable effort was expended for the ADRC Clinical and Neuropath Cores in standardizing what data to collect and how to collect and store it; in the future emphasis on statistical analysis will increase. In the next grant period, we will maintain and update existing Clinical and Neuropathology Core ADRC databases and develop data entry and database systems for a “core” set of data collected for the Oldest Old and Down syndrome cohorts to be compatible with current clinical data. We propose to develop an interface for researchers to select variables and to specify criteria for selecting subjects for export to statistical software packages. A web based data dictionary will be supported for all ADRC investigators to view. To improve Neuropath repository management, we will develop a centralized system for autopsy results, molecular lab results, inventory and tracking of frozen/blocked tissue, etc. An inventory system for information on triple and double transgenic mouse brains of different lines at different ages will be created. To facilitate ADRC research, we will be proactive about ADRC statistical consulting services including study design with power analyses, statistical analyses, and the review of grant applications for appropriate informatics and statistical analyses. We will also conduct workshops to introduce ADRC researchers to data analysis and teach them to vet their data using statistical software. Finally, we will continue to prepare timely submissions of clinical and neuropath data to the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center (NACC) and to apply changes to these data as they are mandated.
The Data Core Leader is Dr. Daniel Gillen.