‘There is no more time to waste’: Brown establishing new Alzheimer’s research center


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Brown University plans to establish a brand new Alzheimer’s research center focused on early detection and treatment of the disease.

The university said two anonymous donors gifted them $30 million to fund the Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research.

Dr. Diane Lipscombe, a professor of neuroscience and the current director of the university’s Robert J. and Nancy D. Carney Institute for Brain Science, will serve as the initial director for the new center.

“Brown is uniquely positioned to cover this field from the earliest, most fundamental mechanisms all the way through to patient care,” Lipscombe said. “Thanks to these gifts, we have an incredible opportunity to change the disease trajectory through the Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research — there is no more time to waste.”

Lipscombe said Alzheimer’s research requires the integration of expertise from across multiple fields of study, which is why scientists and physicians from both the Carney Institute and Brown’s Division of Biology and Medicine will be working together in the new center.

Brown President Christina Paxson called the new center “truly a transformative moment for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia research at Brown.”

“We have a robust foundation in place, and by bringing aboard new scholars, investing in facilities and creating the infrastructure to connect the incredible work already happening in our labs and clinical settings, our goal is to accelerate development toward novel treatments and cures in the fight against this devastating disorder,” Paxson said.

Dr. Steven Salloway, a professor of neurology and psychiatry who will serve as the associate director of the new center, said the funding will allow the university to establish a fully-staffed facility in which researchers will be able to collect from patients and analyze fluid biomarkers, develop new hypotheses about the disease and assess the efficacy of clinical trial treatments.

“I would like to see Brown help to open the modern era of treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, where patients can receive an early and accurate diagnosis and start on treatments that preserve memory and quality of life,” Salloway added.

Once the new center is up and running, Lipscombe said it will serve as a bridge between basic laboratory science and clinical, patient-focused research.

“[For example], a researcher might say, ‘I think I have a biomarker, but I need to test this hypothesis.’ We’ll now have a facility with skilled scientists who can develop a laboratory test to evaluate that hypothesis and conduct additional, highly sophisticated analysis — all right on the Brown campus,” she explained.

To encourage collaboration between the university’s schools, institutes, centers, departments and hospitals, Lipscombe said the center will host an annual competition to award funds to innovative proposals.

“At Carney, we’ve been able to catalyze new projects and discoveries through tremendously successful innovation programs and competitions,” Lipscombe said. “We want to stimulate Alzheimer’s research much in the same way.”

The War on Alzheimer’s: The challenges, the cost, and the quest for a cure »

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