Over the next 5 years, the US National Institutes of Health will award $9 million to a new state wide center to enhance the understanding and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia, according to a press release by the University of Michigan.

The Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center (ADCC) that launched August 15, 2016, will support researchers and clinicians from the University Research Corridor comprised of Wayne State University, Michigan State University, and the University of Michigan.

The new Michigan ADCC is the only NIH-funded Alzheimer’s disease center that links 3 major research universities. It will support a wide range of studies on Alzheimer’s and other dementias, while also educating health care professionals, scientists, and the public on the causes and treatment of dementias.

“This is a remarkable opportunity to leverage the combined clinical, research, and educational expertise of our 3 universities to tackle this devastating disease,” said Scott Counts, PhD, associate professor of translational science and molecular medicine at MSU College of Human Medicine.

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by 2 kinds of accumulated protein deposits, plaques and tangles, and a large proportion of the current research investigates the protein called beta-amyloid that forms plaques. However, the Michigan ADCC plans to take a different approach for their studies.

“We’ll emphasize studies of the many non-amyloid factors contributing to disease because beta-amyloid, though unquestionably important in Alzheimer’s, is getting considerable attention,” said the Director of the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Henry Paulson, MD, PhD, who will also serve as director of the ADCC. “The goal of all this innovative research across the 3 universities is to understand disease processes and develop better treatment for the various dementias.”

Furthermore, researchers will investigate the strong links between dementia at other illnesses that includes, cerebrovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and metabolic disorders. Once the funding begins, researchers will be able to more deeply integrate with geriatrics, movement disorders, and other programs across the 3 universities in order to develop new lines of research, according to the release.

“To advance Alzheimer’s research, we need to integrate data coming from various platforms including clinical, genetics, biomarkers, and imaging data,” said U-M Associate Professor of Neurology Hiroko Dodge, PhD, who is leading the ADCC data management and statistical core. “Our center will be able to provide unique and high impact science, taking advantage of our university’s big data initiatives and integrating their analytical approaches with clinical knowledge.”