Seed Funding

Transformative Aging and Neurodegeneration Pilot Grant Awardees - 2021

The Virginia Alzheimer's Disease Center (VADC) and the UVA Brain Institute awarded seed funding to investigator-initiated projects from researchers across UVA who are working in the areas of dementia, neurocognition, or data science related to AD/ADRD. These projects focus on themes of the VADC and NAPA research milestones and are collaborative, multidisciplinary, or show the potential to generate transformative science in the area of AD/ADRD.



VADC Basic Science Pilot Funding

George Bloom, PhD - VADC Basic Science Core

This project focuses on the first Aim of the Basic Science Core: to connect resources with Alzheimer's disease researchers at UVA. The project will create and maintain a registry of resources that are available at UVA for research on AD. Through the registry common resources will be identified, compiled, and maintained to be made available on short notice to all researchers who might want to use them.


Advancing Recruitment Science and Community Engagement in Alzheimer's Disease Research among Patients and Caregivers within Diverse Populations

Project Team: Ishan Williams, PhD; Randy Jones, PhD; Travonia Brown-Hughes, PhD

The mission of the ORE core is to provide the expertise to consistently facilitate enrollment and outreach methods, to facilitate engagement, and to understand partnerships with populations that often bear a disproportionate burden from AD. The ORE core will develop relationships to help coordinate, engage and provide awareness for participation in clinical trials. These partnerships will be strengthened in the ORE Core by providing engagement opportunities intended to address the knowledge of AD, its impact on marginalized communities, and ensuring that clinical research is accessible and disseminated to the community at large.


Single-cell assessment of the signaling response to Alzheimer's Disease insult

Project Team: Christopher Deppmann, PhD and Eli Zunder, PhD

In their project they will apply a neural mass cytometry platform to characterize AD mouse models they have been studying in their laboratory for almost a decade. Using this approach, they expect to identify critical pathways in the development and propagation of AD pathology, which could provide novel targets for therapeutic intervention.


Community Database for Retrospective Brain MRI Analysis in Memory Disorder

Project Team: Jason Druzgal, MD PhD

In his project, Dr. Druzgal proposes to to quantify the amount of neuroimaging and clinical data on memory disorder patients archived in the Picture Archiving and communication system (PACS) and EPIC systems. He will determine the amount of useful neuroimaging data available at UVA and organize it along with relevant clinical measures in a usable database that is accessible to researchers at UVA. 


Molecular mechanism of circadian disruption in Alzheimer's disease 

Project Team: Ali Guler, PhD and Ignacio Provencio, PhD

In their proposal Dr. Guler and Dr. Provencio will work to establish the changes that occur in SCN circadian gene expression and neurophysiology during AD progression and test whether restricted light exposure and timed food access re-establishes these molecular circadian oscillations in the 5xFAD AD mouse model. This work will dovetail with their current efforts supported by the Alzheimer's Association aimed at determining the metabolic and cognitive impact of timed light, exercise, and food on male 3xTg-AD mice.


High-throughput High-resolution Imaging Human Alzheimer's Tauopathy

Project Team: Smriti Gupta, PhD; J. Julius Zhu, PhD; Li Gan, PhD; and Chun-Li Zhang, PhD

This project will create the first imaging and analysis system that enables decoding of healthy and diseased cholinergic transmission at human neurons by developing a method that combines their recently developed acetylcholine sensor with their newly established human iPSC-derived cholinergic neuron system and high-throughput high-resolution image analysis algorithms. The project will also document a new tauopathy-mediated synaptic mechanism that leads to Alzheimer's disease. 


Effective Strategies Program for Dementia Caregivers (ESP-C) Pilot

Project Team Shannon Reilly, PhD with mentorship from Carol Manning, PhD and Ishan Williams, PhD

The Effective Strategies Program (ESP) was developed at UVA Health’s Memory and Aging Care Clinic. Through 18 evidence-informed sessions, ESP aims to provide geographically, culturally, and socioeconomically diverse CRs with education about memory loss and dementia, emotional support, and evidence-informed tools to maintain high quality of life and maximize functional independence. This project aims to adapt and pilot the Effective Strategies Program for Caregivers (ESP-C). 

Pilot Grant Awardees - 2019

The UVA Brain Institute awarded seed funding for two key cross-grounds collaborative research projects in Alzheimer's Disease in 2019, with the purpose of bringing neuroscience investigators together to tackle important questions and perform transformative work that will differentiate our research enterprise. These initiatives demonstrated diverse expertise, and involve investigative teams from a variety of disciplines and/or Schools across grounds. 

Jamie Morris, PhD

Epigenetic aging is associated with cognitive decline and intrinsic neural connectivity

This project combines cutting-edge epigenetic aging techniques with measures of intrinsic neural network integrity assessed by resting state fMRI in an existing longitudinal study over a 12 year period to test the hypothesis that epigenetic aging is a sensitive biomarker of neural and cognitive change across time. This marker will assist in the identification of the neural networks most sensitive to age-related change and how such change may lead to cognitive decline and dementia in both healthy and disordered populations.


​​​​​​Ammasi Periasamy, MS PhD

In vivo, 2-Photon Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging to Track Metabolic Changes in Live Alzheimer's Disease Model Mouse Brains

This project will use nutrient-induced changes in mitochondrial signaling in mouse models as part of a 6-9 month in vivo imaging assay, which integrates adaptive optics for increased depth and signal to noise ratios, to help define the connection between Alzheimer’s Disease and metabolic disorders. By determining if diseased mice show impaired nutrient-induced mitochondrial activity over 3 months, this project will demonstrate the feasibility of monitoring mitochondrial activity in vivo for normal and pathological brain conditions, as well as identify AβO-dependent and tau-dependent steps by which nutrient-induced mitochondrial activity may be disrupted.