The 2016 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC)

An IOA Guest Blog by Rebecca Cweibel, Research Coordinator, AD Genetics, Wang Lab, University of Pennsylvania

The 2016 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) was held last month in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The annual conference gathers thousands of physicians, scholars, and advocates who work on Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and related dementias (ADRD). The event had such a considerable local impact that banners for the conference appeared throughout Toronto Pearson International Airport, the downtown core, and the event even made the front page of the Toronto Star local newspaper.

The weeklong session hosted plenary sessions, focused research sessions featuring several speakers on similar topics, poster sessions, and many other formats fostering communication around AD. University of Pennsylvania researchers, including members of IOA collaborator Li-San Wang, PhD’s lab presented during the meeting’s poster sessions.

The NIA Genetics of Alzheimer’s Disease Data Storage Site (NIAGADS) is the Data Coordinating Center for the Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project (ADSP), an effort designed to meet the research goals outlined in the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, and developed under the National Alzheimer’s Project Act.

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Amanda Kuzma presenting her poster on behalf of the ADSP Data Flow Work Group.

The Alzheimer’s Association works to address AD through research grants; publishing Alzheimer’s and Dementia, a peer-reviewed scientific journal; connecting patients and families of those with AD and other dementias, online and in-person; and lobbying congress to continue funding AD.

Given the depth of the Alzheimer’s Association’s reach, AAIC is such a large gathering of AD scholars physicians, and advocates that it is impossible to experience everything the conference has to offer. The Alzheimer’s Association keeps a log of media coverage on the conference, featuring over 70 articles.

Next year, AAIC will take place July 16-20, 2017, in London.

 

Penn Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center (ADCC) Receives $8.8 Million Renewal

It was announced today that the University of Pennsylvania’s Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center (ADCC) has officially been awarded a five year, $8.8 million renewal from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue investigating the progression, diagnostics, treatments, and strategies of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

“We are hopeful our support for the Penn ADC research program will lead to novel findings on the basic mechanisms involved in these diseases, and innovative new programs aimed at improving the lives of those living with dementia and their caregivers,” explained Nina Silverberg, PhD, an Alzheimer’s Disease Centers program director at NIA, in the Penn Medicine announcement.

The Penn ADCC has a history of groundbreaking discoveries, including identifying the protein tau as the building block of neurofibrillary tangles, as well as the role of alpha-synuclein in forming the Lewy bodies that are found in Parkinson’s disease, Parkinson’s disease dementia, Lewy body dementia, and 50% of Alzheimer’s cases.

Learn more about the Penn ADCC in the video* below:

Read the full Penn Medicine Announcement here.

Visit the Penn ADCC website here.

* Steven Arnold, MD is no longer at the University of Pennsylvania. David A. Wolk, MD is now the Clinical Core leader for the Penn Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center (ADCC).

 

“To sleep, per chance to age… and avoid Alzheimer’s disease”: A recap of the 2016 Sylvan M. Cohen Annual Retreat

On Wednesday, June 8, 2016, the Institute on Aging hosted its annual Sylvan M. Cohen Retreat and Poster Session. This year’s retreat, titled “To sleep, per chance to age… and avoid Alzheimer’s disease,” was co-sponsored by Penn’s Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology and explored the effects of sleep loss and it’s possible link to Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative conditions.

corrected_DJquoteAs usual, the event began with lunch and a series of lectures, but this year we had the pleasure of having J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, dean of the Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM), join us for opening remarks.

He expressed his excitement to see such collaboration amongst the two sponsoring centers and encouraged more of this, not only in the PSOM, but also across the University as a whole. “One of the secrets at Penn Medicine is that we have these catalytic centers and institutes and it’s even more impressive that there is often cross fertilization between them,” explained Dean Jameson.

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Keynote speaker, David M. Holtzman, MD, professor and chairman, Department of Neurology at Washington University School of Medicine, kicked off the lectures by discussing his research in “Understanding the Relationships between Sleep, Protein Aggregation, and Alzheimer’s disease.”

Other topics, covered by our Penn Presenters, included (click for video interviews):

Immediately following the lectures, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and beyond presented their current aging-related work at our annual Poster Session. Categories included basic science, clinical research, & education and community and awards were given to the top posters.

Poster Winners

BASIC SCIENCE

1st Place
BasicSciecne1Enhancing a WNT-telomere feedback loop restores intestinal stem cell function in a human organotypic model of dyskeratosis congenita
Presenter: Dong-Hun Woo
Authors: Dong-Hun Woo, Qijun Chen, Ting-Lin B. Yang, M. Rebecca Glineburg, Carla Hoge, Nicolae A. Leu, F. Brad Johnson, and Christopher J. Lengner

 

2nd Place
BasicSciecne2AB Plaques Mediate Neuritic Plaque-like Tau Pathology that is Distinct from Perikaryal Tau Inclusions
Presenters: Zhuohao He
Authors: Zhuohao He, Jing L. Guo, Jennifer D. McBride, Lakshmi Changolkar, Bin Zhang, Ronald J. Gathagan, Hyesung Kim, Sneha Narasimhan, Kurt R. Brunden, John Q. Trojanowski, Virginia M.-Y. Lee


CLINICAL RESEARCH and EDUCATION & COMMUNITY *

1st Place
ClinRes1Tau Pathology Influences Dementia Onset and Survival in Lewy Body Spectrum Disorders
Presenter: David Irwin
Authors: David J. Irwin, MD MSTR, Murray Grossman MD, Daniel Weintraub MD, Howard I. Hurtig MD, John E. Duda MD, Sharon X. Xie PhD, Edward B. Lee MD PhD, Vivianna M. Van Deerlin MD, PhD,Oscar L. Lopez MD, Julia K. Kofler MD, Peter T. Nelson, MD PhD, Randy Woltjer MD PhD, Joseph F. Quinn MD, Jeffery Kaye MD, James B Leverenz MD, Debby Tsuang MD, MSc, Katelan Longfellow MD, Dora Yearout BS, Walter Kukull PhD, C. Dirk Keene MD, PhD, Thomas J. Montine MD, PhD, Cyrus P. Zabetian MD MS, John Q. Trojanowski MD PhD

2nd Place
ClinRes2Clinical Profile of Older Adults with Mild or No Cognitive Impairment Who Receive Prescriptions for Cholinesterase Inhibitors and/or Memantine: A descriptive study from the PACE/PACENET BHL Caregiver Resources, Education and Support (CREST) Program
Presenter: Romika Dhar, MD
Authors: Romika Dhar, MD; Amy Benson, MSEd; Joel E. Streim, MD; David W. Oslin, MD

* Due to the number of posters submitted, the categories for Clinical Research and Education & Community were combined.

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To view some of the full lectures from our retreat, click here.
* Please note: Some of the lectures are not available to view due to unpublished data being presented *

View more photos from our 2016 Sylvan M. Cohen Retreat Facebook album here.

PA Senator Pat Toomey Convenes Hearing on Alzheimer’s Disease

On Wednesday, July 13, 2016, Pennsylvania State Senator Pat Toomey led a Senate Finance Subcommittee hearing to address the difficult challenges of patients, family members, and the Medicare program caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

Senator Toomey urged the subcommittee to review four key areas – improving accurate diagnosis, support for caregivers, encouraging long-term care financial planning, and most of all, the need for a cure.

“Alzheimer’s is in a category of its own in terms of its breadth, lethality, and the severity of the disease. We estimate 5.2 million Americans with Alzheimer’s. It’s 100 percent fatal,” he explained in his opening remarks, also stating:

“The NIH budget is about $32 billion per year. Alzheimer’s research receives less than three percent of the funding. The fact is there are other non-fatal and treatable diseases that receive far more resources in their research. I think we need to increase our Alzheimer’s research, and we need to do it in a fiscally responsible way.”

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Pictured: Sen. Toomey (left) with John Q. Trojanowski, MD, PhD, Director, IOA, Co-director, CNDR, and Kurt Brunden, Director of Drug Discovery at CNDR

In 2014, Senator Toomey visited the University of Pennsylvania for a tour of the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research (CNDR), a center dedicated to promoting and conducting multidisciplinary clinical and basic research on the causes and progression of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Frontotemporal degeneration (FTD), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), and more.

For Senator Toomey, Alzheimer’s is not just an important public health concern. With a father who is currently battling Alzheimer’s and a grandmother who lost her life to the disease, it is personal as well. Senator Toomey is an avid Alzheimer’s advocate and has met with caregivers across Pennsylvania hearing their stories and sharing his own with the goal working together to end this debilitating condition. He serves as Co-Chair on the bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease and continues to stress the need to increased research funding.

 

Advancing the Health of An Aging Population: Groundbreaking research supported by the NIA

On Thursday, June 30, 2016, the Institute on Aging (IOA), in collaboration with Friends of the National Institute on Aging (FoNIA), hosted an educational briefing on “Advancing the health of an aging population: Groundbreaking research supported by the NIA.”

The briefing, which took place at the Capitol Visitor’s Center in Washington, D.C., is an annual FoNIA event bringing together researchers, legislators, advocates, and others to hear about the latest updates in the field of aging research. This year’s presenters included NIA director, Richard Hodes, MD, and deputy director, Marie A. Bernard, MD, Corey T. McMillan, PhD, research assistant professor of Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania, and Peter M. Abadir, MD, assistant professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

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“We were delighted to see a standing room only crowd at our annual Friends of the NIA educational briefing on the Hill,” said Kathryn Jedrziewski, PhD, director of the IOA and chair of FoNIA. “It was gratifying to hear about so much progress being made in aging-related research, especially in the area of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders.”

Presentations:

FoNIA is a broad-based coalition of aging, disease, research, and patient groups that supports the mission of the NIA.

Legendary Women’s Basketball Coach and Alzheimer’s Advocate, Pat Summitt, passes away after 5-year battle with dementia.

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 10.00.08 AMPat Summitt is most commonly known as a legendary basketball leader—winning more games than any other coach in the history of college basketball—but she was also a leader in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Shortly after being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2011 at the age of 59, Summitt and her son Tyler founded the Pat Summit Foundation. Their goal was to “help find a cure for Alzheimer’s so that one day no family has to hear that a loved one has been diagnosed with [the] disease.”

The foundation awards grants to organizations that conduct research to treat, prevent, and ultimately cure AD, and/or provides education and awareness of the disease, it’s onset, and treatment, or services to support patients, their families and caregivers.

Today, on Tuesday, June 28, 2016, after five years of fighting Alzheimer’s disease head-on, Pat Summitt has passed away.

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 12.16.15 PM“The loss of Pat Summit to dementia of the Alzheimer type reminds us that younger individuals at the peak of their careers, and not just older retirees, are vulnerable to succumb to Alzheimer type dementia, which likely began to damage her brain 10 or more years before she became symptomatic,” said John Q. Trojanowski, MD, PhD, director of Penn’s Institute on Aging.

“Despite stepping down as Tennessee’s legendary basketball coach in 2012, a year after announcing her diagnosis, she continued to be engaged with her team which illustrates that patients living with dementia can continue to lead a meaningful and active life.”

To learn more about early-onset dementia, visit the Alzheimer’s Association.

To learn more about Alzheimer’s research and care here at Penn, visit:

Penn Medicine Researchers and Collaborators Receive Nearly $11 Million NIH Grant to Launch a New Genomics Center on Alzheimer’s disease

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 2.36.40 PMPenn Medicine’s Gerard D. Schellenberg, PhD, a professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Li-San Wang, PhD, an associate professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, along with investigators from Boston University, Case Western Reserve University, Columbia University, the University of Miami, and the University of Indiana have been awarded a $10.8 million grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) to launch their joint Coordinating Center for Genetics and Genomics of Alzheimer’s disease.

“This is an exciting opportunity to apply new technologies to improve our understanding of the biological pathways underlying this devastating disease,” said Dr. Schellenberg, quoted in a Penn Medicine News Release. “The new center will stimulate collaborations between hundreds of U.S. and international Alzheimer’s genetics researchers by aggregating and analyzing very large data sets and sharing the results. This type of global interaction is needed if we are to make progress in solving this devastating illness.”

Drs. Schellenberg and Wang are no strangers to the genetics and genomics of Alzheimer’s and related neurodegenerative diseases. This new grant is just one of the projects in their recently introduced Penn Neurodegeneration Genomics Center (PNGC) which they co-direct. Other projects include the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium (ADGC), Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project (ADSP), Consortium for Alzheimer’s Sequence Analysis (CASA), and NIA Genetics of Alzheimer’s Disease Data Storage Site (NIAGADS).

Read more:
Full Penn Medicine News Release
Feature in the Philadelphia Business Journal