HudsonAlpha receives $50,000 grant to expand neurodegenerative disease and brain research


HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology received a $50,000 grant from the Daniel Foundation of Alabama. These funds will support the Impacting Alzheimer Disease initiative which is part of HudsonAlpha’s Memory and Mobility (M&M) Fund.

“The Daniel Foundation of Alabama’s generous gift will allow us to expand our research to further our understanding of the genetic architecture of neurodegenerative diseases,” said Rick Myers, PhD, president and science director of HudsonAlpha. “The need for better understanding of brain function and the genetics of neurodegenerative disease could not be greater.”

An estimated 5.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer disease today. It is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. and the only cause among the top 10 that cannot be prevented or slowed. There is no cure. In 2017, there were an estimated 90,000 Alabamians living with Alzheimer disease, representing 12 percent of all seniors.

“We know there is a significant genetic component to Alzheimer and related dementias,” said Myers. “Due to the promising results we have seen thus far, we have committed to extending this study for both the benefit of understanding more about these diseases and for sharing important results with patient families here in Alabama.”

The gift will fund a portion of a larger research effort that includes both whole genome sequencing and RNA sequencing. RNA is the message derived from DNA that tells cells how to function. Insights derived from a patient’s RNA can help provide important information for biomarker development.

HudsonAlpha is continuing to enroll patients and family members in collaboration with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Kirklin Clinic.

“We are honored to work with Dr. Erik Roberson and his colleagues at the UAB Kirklin Clinic on this project,” said Nick Cochran, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the Myers lab. “This project is a great example of the successful history of collaboration between HudsonAlpha and UAB.”

“Our hope is that the funding will provide more insight into the genetics of these devastating diseases as well as continue to propel the discoveries further,” said Maria Kennedy, executive director of the Daniel Foundation of Alabama.

For more information or to make a contribution to the Memory and Mobility Fund, please visit hudsonalpha.org/foundation/impacting-alzheimer.