Texas Council on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders: Presentation on TARCC research grants and the International Symposium on Neurodegenerative Disease

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The Grants Program has enjoyed a lot of success. There have been more than 60 applications from across TARCC institutions. We require submission of progress reports, which include scientific progress, barriers, a budget overview, etc. The steering committee has been very active in ensuring that each site is making progress on their grant awards. All TARCC sites received some funding. There were two multi-site collaborative grants that we’re very proud of; six junior investigator grants; five senior investigator grants; and last year, we added three post-doctoral fellowship grants. Our tissue core has sent out more than 3,000 biosamples, largely to the new TARCC investigators to help with their projects. The collaborative grant involves UT Dell, UT San Antonio, Texas Tech, and UT Southwestern Medical Centers and addresses the Hispanic cohort. In addition to the previous TARCC protocol, this study includes neuroimaging and collection of cerebral spinal fluid from participants. The rate of collection is very encouraging, and is necessary for analysis of key biomarkers in neurodegeneration. Regarding the postdoctoral fellowship program, awards were made to UT Medical Branch, UT Dell, and UT Southwestern, to begin to train the next generation of clinician scientists. The productivity of the grants over time has been significant. Over the last two years, there have been 38 publications by TARCC investigators. They are in the final stages of updating the TARCC database to make it user-friendly and accessible. Our database includes more than 14,000 visits of individual cases. There are almost 4,000 subjects enrolled, and they have an average of about four visits each. The database used to be accessible only through submission of a data request form. Now, investigators can review it online and download the data directly.

Data Management. The Data Coordinating Center (DCC) is located at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and is responsible for the design, management, quality control, and accuracy of the Texas Alzheimer’s Research and Care Consortium (TARCC) data made available for investigator analysis. Data reporting and distribution are designed to meet the needs of investigators and research projects as approved by the TARCC Steering Committee and the Texas Council on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders. Coordinators at member sites are responsible for submitting data to the DCC from TARCC research projects. Lab information is merged with the clinical, demographic, and neuropsychological data in the TARCC database.

Tissue Management. The Tissue Bank is located at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and manages all sample processing, DNA extraction, APOE genotyping, handling, storage and shipment for the dedicated TARCC bio-banking facility. Freezerworks software is used to track submitted lab samples and updates records when samples are distributed for special analyses. The Tissue Bank ensures samples are maintained for current and future research interests requiring DNA, whole blood, plasma, and serum on the TARCC cohort. Biodata are reported to the DCC and merged with other participant data elements that are available for analysis.

TARCC has been invited to participate in some national and international data-sharing efforts. The Genome Sequencing project is one such effort. Another is The Global Alzheimer’s Association Interactive Network.

The Global Alzheimer’s Association Interactive Network (GAAIN) has developed the first operational online integrated research platform, which links scientists, shared data, and sophisticated analysis tools. Investigators can address scientific questions of unprecedented complexity by accessing massive shared data sets and can share their own data by joining our global network of Alzheimer’s disease study centers. The GAAIN team has recruited data partners and affiliates all over the world to join the effort to accelerate Alzheimer’s disease research. These groups provide resources and data enabling investigators to perform comparative data analysis and cohort discovery. GAAIN, funded by the Alzheimer’s Association, continues to improve and expand while reaching out to new potential data partners, developing and refining a comprehensive, efficient platform where investigators can search, access, and analyze Alzheimer’s disease data (as well as data related to dementia and aging) in a collaborative and innovative manner.

GAAIN is powered by the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging (LONI) at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.  The Laboratory of Neuro Imaging (LONI) strives to improve our understanding of the brain in health and disease. LONI is a leader in the development of advanced computational algorithms and scientific approaches for the comprehensive and quantitative mapping of brain structure and function. LONI acts as the hub of an international neuroimaging resource, which supports over 60 brain-imaging collaborations worldwide. These collaborations apply novel image analysis approaches to investigate brain structure and. In addition, LONI has designed and maintains an extensive infrastructure that facilitates modern informatics research and supports hundreds of projects, including several multi-site national and global efforts.


TARCC has been well-represented at international meetings as well. This last year at the American Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC), TARCC Investigators had more than 85 presentations and posters, as well as a featured speaker. In January, we had our first TARCC annual symposium, and there were more than 150 attendees. We showcased recently funded projects and held discussions about getting them started. We also started the first South Texas Alzheimer’s Conference in February. It was a well-attended event, supported by UT Rio Grande Valley, UT San Antonio, and the Daryll K Royal Research Foundation, as well as TARCC. Most recently, we co-sponsored with the Peter O’Donnell Brain Institute at UT Southwestern, a two-day symposium on Neurodegeneration.

The tone of the science is very upbeat now. Despite certain failed clinical trials discussed in the media over the years, there’s actually a lot of excitement about where we’re going next. We’re resurrecting some of the ideas with amyloid.

They are planning for the next TARCC symposium in January. There will be many key presentations and a happy hour to celebrate the success of TARCC.


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