Achievements in Research
For more than three decades, scientists at NYU have led research in the field of aging and dementia. Research "firsts" achieved by our research team have been recognized nationally and internationally. Some of these include:
Clinical Assessment and Treatment -
Earliest detailed descriptions of the behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer's disease (AD) leading to its longitudinal course, leading to development of widely used scales to assess dementia severity and responses to treatment. Spearheaded clinical trials leading to approval of memantine (Namenda) for AD treatment. Landmark studies establishing effectiveness of psychosocial support for patients and families.
Early Diagnosis -
Development of highly sensitive brain imaging techniques and memory tests that recognize and validate a stage of mild cognitive impairment preceding AD and predicting its development. Established novel approaches to imaging of brain structure, metabolism, and electrical activity, combined with specific biomarkers, for reliable early detection of AD and prediction of AD in people at risk.
Genetic and Molecular Causes -
Identified a gene mutation linking Alzheimer's and vascular forms of dementia and a second mutation causing a novel familial form of dementia. Characterized mechanisms by which a common genetic risk factor for AD promotes earlier disease onset. Established the link between the gene causing AD in individuals with Down Syndrome and pathological changes in brain appearing years before AD develops. Pioneered methods to isolate amyloid and discovered a novel amyloid generating pathway in the brain.
Drug Discovery -
Pioneered the first and second generations of laboratory (animal) models for AD currently used world-wide (in labs and computers) to discover and test new therapies. Conducted pivotal studies revealing the therapeautic potential of cholesterol lowering drugs and amyloid removal strategies now under evaluation in patients. Continue on the forefront of developments toward a safe "amyloid vaccine" for treating AD and prion-related dementias.