The cores represent the backbone of a successful ADRC, anchoring the ADRC’s infrastructure in serving both its local and global goals. The current cores and their leaders are listed below.
Dr. Larry Honig, Core Leader
The clinical core must be viewed as the ‘crown jewel’ of an ADRC, if not its workhorse, with its mandate of patient characterization and the acquisition of biospecimens. Dr. Honig joined the ADRC in 2000, when he first served as the associate leader, and in 2005 became the leader of the core. Under his leadership, the core has served the ADRC extremely well based on all metrics of success. With Dr. Honig as the clinical core leader, our ADRC is ranked first in number of enrolled patients.
Data Management and Statistical Core
Dr. Howard Andrews, Core Leader
Dr. Andrews established and serves as director of the Data Coordinating Center at Columbia University, which in collaboration with the Biostatistics Department provides comprehensive data management, statistical and data analytic services to numerous Centers on campus. Dr. Andrews had been in charge of the ADRC data management operations since the ADRC was first funded in 1989. During this time, Dr. Andrews has managed the ADRC’s database notable for its ever-growing complexity, on the one hand, as well as maintaining data integrity and confidentiality and patient safety on the other. This core has worked closely with the other cores to incorporate both standard information, but also newly emerging variables that are most relevant to the ADRC’s theme and the needs of the local and global network at large. At the same time, the core has been responsive in disseminating high-quality information in a timely manner, to the projects, to other investigators, and in coordination with the clinical core to all national consortia.
Dr. Philip DeJager, Core Leader
The Columbia University ADRC’s Neuroimmunology Core supports the development of biosample and data resources along one of the three thematic axes of the ADRC. Characterizing immune responses is an important component of AD investigations, but these responses are not solely responsible for the disease. Thus, it is important to integrate thoughtful, informed study design, specialized resources as well as emerging experimental and analytic pipelines for systematic immune function characterization with existing biomarker, genetic, neuroimaging and other resources to assemble a comprehensive approach to AD investigations.
Created in 2018 by Dr. Philip De Jager, who remains its director, the Neuroimmunology Core has served both as a study design forum for investigators to discuss options for adding assessments of the immune system to their projects and as a repository of specialized experimental and analytic methodologies as well as a provider of rare biosamples such as live primary microglia, cerebrospinal fluid cells, and peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Overall, the Neuroimmunology Core serves as an important node in local, national, and international collaborative networks which link studies of nervous system to those of immune function.
Our understanding of the role of the immune system in AD is rapidly evolving, and innate immune cells appear to play a key role. Thus, we propose to: (1) create a new sample resource by cryopreserving CSF cells from each recruited subject, (2) create new assays that measure surrogate markers of microglia in CSF, (3) assess the systemic state of inflammation in each of the sampled subjects, and (4) estimate the functional capacity of each individual’s microglia to respond to key stimuli. Thus, we will generate novel sample, assay, and data resources with which to accelerate the characterization of the immune system in AD.
Dr. Jean-Paul Vonsattel, Core Leader
Dr. Vonsattel is a Professor of Pathology and is the Director of the New York Brain Bank. Dr. Vonsattel is considered a leading neuropathologist, and because of his reputation and expertise he was actively recruited to the ADRC in 2001. Since then, he has significantly improved this very important core. Dr. Vonsattel has been instrumental in developing and implementing novel state-of-the-art methods for dissecting, cataloguing and banking brain tissue.
Human Genetics Core
Dr. Christiane Reitz, Core Leader
Because of the obvious importance of human genetics in investigating AD and related disorders, and because of our local strengths in this field, a decade ago it was decided to create this core as part of our ADRC. Dr. Mayeux, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology, is a leading expert in human genetics and has acted as the leader of this core since its inception. Under his leadership, the core has been instrumental in identifying genes implicated in AD and cognitive aging.
Outreach, Retention, and Education Core
Dr. Karen Bell, Core Leader
Dr. Bell is a Professor of Neurology, and has successfully led this core during the last decade. Under Dr. Bell’s leadership, the core has been successful in the outreach and recruitment of patients, and in the education of a very broad audience—from patients, caregivers, and the community at large, to trainees, scientists, and physicians.