The research of Neill R. Graff-Radford, M.D., involves finding genes that help people age without becoming demented.
He is also studying normal pressure hydrocephalus to find those patients with good outcomes from treatment with shunt surgery; working to find a blood test that could determine if a person is at risk of Alzheimer's disease and be used as a diagnostic test for Alzheimer's disease; examining differences in dementia between African-Americans and Caucasians; and collaborating to find genes related to Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia.
- Cognitively normal aging. Dr. Graff-Radford's group will pursue this with a cohort they have collected of 500 families without a history of dementia, and in which the proband is cognitively normal and someone is over age 85.
They will use autopsy cases of people who died after age 85, were cognitively normal and had little Alzheimer's disease pathology. Further, they will use an imaging series in which people are over age 85 and have not had amyloid deposition on their positron emission tomography (PET) scans.
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus. Using amyloid PET scans, Dr. Graff-Radford and his team will determine if patients with +ve amyloid PET scans have a poor cognitive prognosis with a shunt.
- Blood test for Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Graff-Radford has worked in this area for more than 10 years.
- Dementia in Caucasians versus African-Americans. Dr. Graff-Radford's group has several projects evaluating the differences in dementia in Caucasians versus African-Americans.
- Late-onset Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia. Dr. Graff-Radford is involved in several studies related to the genetics of late-onset Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia.
Significance to patient care
Findings associated with healthy cognitive aging may lead to interventions that can mimic the gene effects and allow people to age with less chance of dementia.
Identifying which patients with normal pressure hydrocephalus have the best chance of improving with surgery would greatly help patients and families decide if they should have surgery.
In addition, finding a blood test that shows some risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and whether a person has Alzheimer's disease would be helpful in treatment of the disease.
Understanding the differences in dementia in African-Americans compared with Caucasians could lead to population-specific interventions.
Overall, knowing genes that place patients at risk for a disease may lead to specific therapies for that disease.
- Member, Science Committee, American Academy of Neurology
- Member, Editorial Board, The Neurologist and Alzheimer's Research & Therapy
- Member, Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, Mayo Clinic, 1991-present
- Involvement in Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study (nearly since its inception) and Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (since its inception)