Wake Forest Baptist Gets Federal Grant for Alzheimer’s Research Center

September 27, 2016

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center a grant worth an estimated $8.7 million over five years for the establishment of a new center for research into Alzheimer’s disease.

The Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center (ADCC) at Wake Forest Baptist is among 31 NIH-funded research centers in the country. It serves the Southeast, the U.S. region with the highest per capita rates of Alzheimer’s and other age-related cognitive disorders.

The mission of the ADCC is to promote Alzheimer’s research and education and to contribute to the national network of NIH-funded centers. Its primary focus will be on the role played by vascular and metabolic disorders in the occurrence of Alzheimer’s.

“The ADCC will provide extensive resources for coordinated, multidisciplinary investigations into how diabetes, peripheral vascular disease and other common conditions affect the transitions from normal aging to mild cognitive impairment and then to Alzheimer’s and other dementias,” said the center’s director, Suzanne Craft, Ph.D., professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine, a part of Wake Forest Baptist. “We anticipate that the knowledge we gain will contribute to the development of innovative strategies for prevention and treatment.”

Craft said the ADCC also will provide training in translational research to new investigators and develop educational programs about Alzheimer’s and dementia for health care professionals, patients and their family members and the community at large.

Craft also credits philanthropic support, particularly from the Kulynych family of North Carolina and the Texas-based Hartman Foundation, for accelerating Wake Forest Baptist’s progress toward becoming a nationally recognized research center for Alzheimer’s.

The associate directors of the ADCC at Wake Forest Baptist are Jeff D. Williamson, M.D., professor and section chief of gerontology and geriatric medicine, and Laura Baker, Ph.D., associate professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine.

“We’re uniquely equipped to be a high-impact center because of our deep and strong foundation in aging research, specialized expertise in metabolic and vascular disorders, well-established ties to an ethnically diverse community with a high prevalence of these conditions, and exceptional institutional support,” said Edward Abraham, M.D., dean of Wake Forest School Medicine.

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) at NIH established the Alzheimer’s center networks at major medical institutions across the U.S. to enable the sharing of new approaches, technologies and research results. Although each center has its own area of emphasis, all are working to translate research advances into improved diagnosis and care for people with dementia while pursuing the long-term goal of finding a way to cure and possibly prevent Alzheimer’s.

“We are delighted to welcome the Wake Forest Baptist ADCC into our collaborative network of cutting-edge researchers and clinicians focused on diagnosing this complex disorder in diverse populations, and finding effective interventions to treat or prevent dementia,” said Nina Silverberg, Ph.D., NIA Alzheimer’s disease centers program officer.


Media Relations

Marguerite Beck: marbeck@wakehealth.edu, 336-716-2415