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2007 Grant - Ginsberg
Profiling Vulnerable Hippocampal Populations in Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer's Disease
Stephen D. Ginsberg, Ph.D.
Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research
Orangeburg, New York
2007 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant
The degeneration of nerve cells in the brain of a person with Alzheimer's disease is not uniform. Rather, certain populations of nerve cells are particularly susceptible to degeneration. In addition, signs of degeneration often occur very early in the course of disease, well before people have a clinical diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
Stephen Ginsberg, Ph.D., and colleagues have proposed to study the molecular properties that make some nerve cell types particularly susceptible to degeneration during the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. They plan to focus on a region of the brain called the hippocampus. This region is important for learning and memory, and it is often selectively damaged in people with early signs of dementia.
The researches are involved in a long-term study of brain health in which individuals are monitored as they age, and their brain function is recorded at various times using several established tests of cognition. Some of these individuals have volunteered to allow further research on their brain tissue after they die.
Using such brain tissue, the researchers plan to remove specific regions of the hippocampus known to be either vulnerable or relatively resistant to degeneration. They will then perform molecular studies of the cells in these brain regions in an attempt to identify changes in gene expression that correlate with the dementia seen in cognitive tests. They will also look for gene expression patterns that may explain why some cells are more vulnerable than others. The researchers expect that their research will provide initial information that could lead to the development of new therapies targeted to specific brain regions or to specific stages of the disease process.