Four Grants in Six Months for Sanders-Brown Researcher

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jun. 12, 2015) A researcher from UK's Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has received four different grants in six months to explore both disease processes and potential treatments for Alzheimer's and related diseases.


Since January of 2015, Joe Abisambra, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Physiology and Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, has been awarded grants totaling more than $1.3 million from the Department of Defense, UK's Center for Clinical and Translational Science, GlaxoSmithKline, and UK's Center for Biomedical Excellence.


"The overall objective of my research program is to investigate the molecular mechanisms by which tau causes neurodegeneration in diseases of aging like Alzheimer’s, and in doing so, identify therapeutic targets," Abisambra said. "These four grants will fund continued exploration into preclinical and translational therapies for the class of diseases we call tauopathies."


Abisambra's work exemplifies the collaborative research culture at the University of Kentucky, with contributors from the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging (Chris Norris, Ph.D.), the Cardiovascular Imaging Research Team (Moriel Vandsburger, Ph.D.), the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Repair Center (Kathy Saatman, Ph.D.), the Epilepsy Center (Bret Smith, Ph.D.), Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology (Brian Gold, Ph.D.), and the MRI Spectroscopy Core.


The four grants are:


·      A two-year grant from GlaxoSmithKline to study the impact of a novel compound on the treatment of Alzheimer’s tauopathy in mice.


·      A three-year grant from the Department of Defense to explore and dissociate the link between traumatic brain injury and the risk for Alzheimer’s.


·      An 18-month Innovation and High Impact Award from the UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science to develop a novel and sophisticated MRI application for detection of early neuronal damage before signs of pathology in the brain. This would be crucial for preclinical signs of dementia and provide opportunity for early intervention.


·      A two-year grant from the University of Kentucky Center for Biomedical Research Excellence to characterize the role of the protein PERK immediately after brain injury in mice, providing opportunity for future therapeutic targeting.


According to Linda Van Eldik, Ph.D., director of the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, Abisambra's grant awards demonstrate the center's global excellence in all phases of the disease process for tauopathies and other age-related diseases.


"Sanders-Brown enjoys a robust research enterprise, and Joe is just one of several prolific minds at Sanders-Brown," Van Eldik said. "When you consider that Alzheimer's is considered the costliest and most difficult chronic condition to treat, the potential impact of work like Joe's is considerable."


MEDIA CONTACT: Laura Dawahare,