28 Jun 2018

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

HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology announced today that it has 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 M&M Fund at HudsonAlpha was launched in response to the need for more knowledge of the genetic underpinnings of neurodegenerative diseases. The Impacting Alzheimer Disease initiative is working to identify new causes, find early detection tools and discover new therapeutic approaches.

“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.

To date, the M&M Fund campaign has raised nearly $4.9 million of a $5.8 million goal. For more information or to make a contribution, please visit hudsonalpha.org/foundation/impacting-alzheimer.




About HudsonAlpha: HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is a nonprofit institute dedicated to developing and applying scientific advances to health, agriculture, learning, and commercialization. Opened in 2008, HudsonAlpha’s vision is to leverage the synergy between discovery, education, medicine, and economic development in genomic sciences to improve the human condition around the globe. The HudsonAlpha biotechnology campus consists of 152 acres nestled within Cummings Research Park, the nation’s second largest research park. The state-of-the-art facilities co-locate nonprofit scientific researchers with entrepreneurs and educators. HudsonAlpha has become a national and international leader in genetics and genomics research and biotech education and includes more than 30 diverse biotech companies on campus. To learn more about HudsonAlpha, visit hudsonalpha.org.


About the Daniel Foundation of Alabama: The Daniel Foundation of Alabama’s mission is to strengthen communities within Alabama and improve the quality of life for citizens from all regions of Alabama. The Foundation believes this can be achieved through support of effective organizations that are focused on building a healthy and well-educated population, living in a vibrant community. To learn more, visit danielfoundationofalabama.com.