MAR 20, 2014 11:00 AM PDT

Using brain imaging and biomarkers for diagnosis and investigation of Alzheimer's disease "The Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiat

Presented At Neuroscience
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  • Principle Investigator of the Alzheimer's Disease, Neuroimaging Initiative, Professor in Residence, Medicine, Psychiatry, and Neurology, University of California, San Francisco
      Michael Weiner, MD, is a Professor in Residence in Radiology and Biomedical Engineering, Medicine, Psychiatry, and Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco. He is Principle Investigator of the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, which is the largest observational study in the world concerning Alzheimer's Disease. He is the former Director of the Center for Imaging of Neurodegenerative Diseases (CIND) at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. After graduating from the Johns Hopkins University in 1961, He obtained his M.D, from SUNY Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, New York in 1965, and he completed his internship and residency in Medicine from Mt. Sinai Hospital in 1967. From 1967-1968, Dr. Weiner completed a residency and clinical fellowship in Metabolism from Yale-New Haven Medical Center. In 1970, he completed a research fellowship in Nephrology from Yale University School of Medicine and a research fellowship in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin Institute for Enzyme Research in 1972, followed by a joint appointment in the Department of Medicine, Renal Section from the University of Wisconsin Institute in 1972. In 1974 he became an Assistant Professor of Medicine (Nephrology) at Stanford University, and in 1980 he became an Associate Professor of Medicine (Nephrology) at UCSF. In 1983, he established the Magnetic Resonance Unit at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, which became the Center for Imaging of Neurodegenerative Diseases in 2000. In 1990, he became a Professor of Radiology, Medicine, Psychiatry and Neurology at UCSF. During the past 25 years he has worked to develop and optimized the use of MRI, PET, and blood based biomarker methods to diagnose Alzheimers disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. Also, Dr. Weiners research focuses on monitoring effects of treatment to slow progressions in Alzheimers disease, and detecting Alzheimers disease early in patients who are not demented, but risk subsequent development of dementia. He is the Principle Investigator of the Alzheimers Disease Neuroimaging Initiative which has enrolled over 1500 subjects (including controls, MCI, and AD) at 68 sites across the USA and Canada for cognitive testing, MRI, PET, and lumbar puncture. He has also launched The Brain Initiative, which is a web-based registry for recruiting, screening, and longitudinally monitoring subjects for neuroscience studies of all types. Dr. Weiner has 649 published articles and he has written 70 book chapters.


    Alzheimers disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder producing cognitive impairment and dementia in millions of elders. Currently no treatment is effective to slow the progression of AD. Major obstacles to developing effective treatments are: 1) a reliance on clinical symptoms and a lack of biomarkers for diagnosis 2) uncertainty concerning which biomarkers are best to identify disease stage and to predict progression 3) lack of standardization and 4) absence of naturalistic data to provide a basis for clinical trial design, problem in the field. To address these issues ADNI was funded for a total of $140 million, as a public/private partnership between the National Institute of Aging and a consortium of pharmaceutical companies (including Swiss companies). The goal of ADNI (from 2004-present see has been to standardize and determine the value of MRI and PET imaging together with blood and CSF biomarkers for disease modifying Alzheimers treatment trials. In our initial project (ADNI1), we longitudinally studied: MCI (n= 400); AD (n= 200); Controls (n= 220) with clinical visits, neuropsychological assessments, MRI (1.5 T), FDG PET, blood and urine, and CSF. About 300 subjects from ADNI 1 continue to be followed. We found that the rate of hippocampal atrophy had high statistical power for measuring change over time. Normal healthy elders with APOE4 and/or low CSF Aβ amyloid have worse memory scores and higher rates of hippocampal atrophy, consistent with the view that about 30% of healthy elders in their 70s have preclinical AD pathology. Similar ADNI-like projects, with similar methods, are underway in Australia, Japan, Europe, China, Taiwan, and Korea leading to the World Wide ADNI network. The Parkinsons Progressive Markers Initiative (PPMI) has been modeled after ADNI. ADNI 2 with 3Tesla MRI and F18 amyloid PET imaging with Florbetapir on an additional 150 controls, 100 normal subjects with cognitive complaints, 300 subjects with early MCI, 150 subjects with late MCI , 150 subjects with dementia due to AD. Thus a total of about 1700 subjects have been enrolled and are followed longitudinally. Whole genome sequencing on 800 subjects is available. All ADNI data is available to all scientists in the world, on USC/LONI/ADNI, without embargo. Blood and CSF samples can be requested. ADNI methods are now widely used in clinical treatment trials, and have led to the development of the new research criteria. Over 600 papers have been written on ADNI data and all scientists are encouraged to explore this rich data set and publish their results. It is expected that ADNI will substantially contribute to identifying accurate diagnostic techniques and effective treatments to slow the progression and prevent Alzheimers disease.

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