January 5, 2021

The Vanderbilt Brain Institute and the Vanderbilt Memory and Alzheimer’s Center have awarded funding for eight pilot studies spearheaded by Vanderbilt University, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and Meharry Medical College investigators. These pilot studies collectively focus on neurodegeneration, Alzheimer’s disease, and related dementias. 

While neurodegenerative diseases can be quite debilitating, there is still little known about the pathophysiology of many of these disorders. Alzheimer’s disease specifically affects over 5.8 million Americans and their families. Despite decades of research and hundreds of clinical drug trials, there is still no disease modifying therapy for Alzheimer’s. 

Both the Vanderbilt Brain Institute and the Vanderbilt Memory and Alzheimer’s Center sought to spark innovation, encourage collaboration, and provide seed funding as a foundation for future extramural support. The pilot studies funded this year will test new, interdisciplinary approaches and add evidence to support new research directions. 

List of Project Awards

Funded by the Vanderbilt Brain Institute 
Ultrastructures of synapses in SNAP25-associated encephalopathies revealed by cryo-electron tomography 
Qiangjun Zhou, PhD (Vanderbilt University) and Baris Alten, MD, PhD (Vanderbilt University)

Molecular mechanism for the pathogenesis of cerebral amyloid angiopathy 
Ethan Lippman, PhD (Vanderbilt University) and Matthew Schrag, MD, PhD (Vanderbilt University Medical Center)

Electrophysiological correlates of cognitive neurodegeneration in older adults with Down syndrome 
Alexander Conley, PhD (Vanderbilt University Medical Center) and Alexandra Key, PhD (Vanderbilt University Medical Center)

Role of Protease Activated Receptor 4 in cerebrovascular dysfunction and dementia 
Heidi Hamm, PhD (Vanderbilt University); Matthew Schrag, MD, PhD (Vanderbilt University Medical Center); and Timothy Hohman, PhD (Vanderbilt University Medical Center)

Funded by the Vanderbilt Memory and Alzheimer’s Center
Translational animal-to-human study of cholinergic decline in aging and relationship to biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease risk 
Paul Newhouse, MD (Vanderbilt University Medical Center); Sepideh Shokouhi, PhD (Vanderbilt University Medical Center); and Carrie Jones, PhD (Vanderbilt University) 

Subjective cognitive decline, cognitive performance, and cholinergic function interaction in older adults 
Kimberly Albert, PhD (Vanderbilt University Medical Center); René Marois, PhD (Vanderbilt University); Alexandra Key, PhD (Vanderbilt University Medical Center); and Paul Newhouse, MD (Vanderbilt University Medical Center)

Funded Jointly by the Vanderbilt Brain Institute and the Vanderbilt Memory and Alzheimer’s Center 
Ceramide and S1P concentrations in Alzheimer's disease and Type II diabetes patients vs. normal patients 
Tameka Clemons, PhD (Meharry Medical College) and Renã Robinson, PhD (Vanderbilt University)

Dietary polyphenol intake effect on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias risk and plasma polyphenol biomarkers in the Southern Community Cohort Study 
Danxia Yu, PhD (Vanderbilt University Medical Center); Laura Keohane, PhD (Vanderbilt University Medical Center); Qi Dai, MD, PhD (Vanderbilt University Medical Center); and Ginger Milne, PhD (Vanderbilt University)