Background: Neurodegenerative Translational Research Program (NTRP) at the Medical College of Wisconsin was established in 2018. Dr. Franczak is the current director of NTRP and Dr. Laura Umfleet (neuropsychologist) is co-director. Over the past several years, the NTRP has grown and now includes basic scientists from Radiology, Neuropsychologists, and medical or neuropsychological residents/fellows. More recently, members of NTRP have started collaborating with other disciplines (e.g., Microbiology), which further fosters collaborations between clinician scientists and basic scientists.
Mission: NTRP seeks to be leaders in cutting-edge research that tackles the brain disease of Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias. The primary aim of our research program is to reduce neurologic morbidity and optimize health in aging adults. Our goals are threefold: 1) improve early detection of neurodegenerative diseases (both AD and non-AD conditions), 2) identify new risk factors and possible causes of dementia to discovery new treatment targets, and 3) develop effective interventions.
Research: We have developed a comprehensive database of memory disorders patients at the earliest stages of AD and other dementias. This database combines cognitive data from clinical neuropsychological evaluations with multimodal neuroimaging biomarkers. The NTRP efforts accounted for over 15 well received posters or presentations at national and international conferences as well as several manuscripts which have been accepted, under revision or in preparation. Thus far, we have 1 publication in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 1 accepted pending review of minor revisions, 5 manuscripts that are in preparation or under review. NTRP researchers have been studying the impact that cerebrovascular and neuroinflammatory disease has on various brain regions and cognition in mild cognitive impairment (MCI). We are examining a novel MRI technique to examine possible physiological mechanisms that predict executive dysfunction in patients with MCI. Drs. Wang and Umfleet are collaborating with Dr. Franczak on the project that examines the translational application of the novel MRI technique to study neurovascular uncoupling in early dementia, which will provide new insights into both AD and non-AD conditions.