Tag Archives: Eric Reiman

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Banner Alzheimer’s Institute gets $10M in new funding

The Alzheimer’s Association, GHR Foundation and Fidelity Biosciences Research Initiative announced $10 million in new research funding to Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (BAI), Phoenix, Arizona, to support a groundbreaking Alzheimer’s disease prevention trial that will launch later this year.

The funding, to be paid over five years as part of a broad public/private partnership, supports and extends the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative (API) APOE4 trial. The study is focused on determining whether therapies targeting amyloid proteins in the brain may prevent or delay the emergence of Alzheimer’s symptoms in people at particularly high genetic risk for developing the disease at older ages.

The new funding will support three aspects of the API APOE4 trial that otherwise would not be possible: (1) brain PET imaging at the start of the trial and two-year follow-up in 125 participants each year, (2) a sub-study to evaluate two remote genetic counseling approaches, and (3) expansion of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry for the APOE4 trial.

“The goal is to accelerate the global effort to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease,” said Maria Carrillo, Ph.D., Alzheimer’s Association Chief Science Officer. “Through efforts such as API, the Alzheimer’s Association envisions a time when we will have effective treatments to slow or stop Alzheimer’s in its tracks; plus preventive strategies and gold-standard care for all people affected by Alzheimer’s.”

The Alzheimer’s Association led the effort to bring the three funding organizations together. The award to API includes a $5 million lead gift from the GHR Foundation, a private family foundation.

API is led by BAI’s executive director, Eric Reiman, M.D., its director, Pierre Tariot, M.D., and one of its principal scientists, Jessica Langbaum, Ph.D.

“We are extremely grateful to these three organizations for their extraordinary support,” said Dr. Reiman. “These funds will not only help make it possible to evaluate two promising Alzheimer’s prevention therapies, but to do so in a way that will help the field find treatments that work as soon as possible.”

API was established to rapidly evaluate potential new treatments in people prior to developing clinical symptoms of Alzheimer’s who, based on their age and genetic background, are at highest risk of developing symptoms of the disease, including the API APOE4 trial and the Autosomal Dominant Alzheimer’s Disease Trial. That study is evaluating an investigational anti-amyloid therapy in 300 cognitively normal members of an extended family in Colombia, South America that includes carriers of a rare genetic mutation causing them to develop Alzheimer’s by about age 45. API is committed to sharing trial data and biological samples with the research community to help find better ways to test prevention therapies in the future, and to clarifying the role of APOE genetic testing and disclosure.

The API APOE4 trial is focused on how two investigational anti-amyloid therapies may prevent or delay the development of Alzheimer’s symptoms in a population known to be at high risk for the disease because of their age and genetic status. Specifically, participants in the trial must be age 60-75 and carry two copies of the APOE-e4 gene that greatly increases their risk for developing Alzheimer’s.

The trial will test two different potential therapies to see if one or both can prevent the development of memory and thinking symptoms of Alzheimer’s. The first treatment is an active immunotherapy aimed at triggering the body’s immune system to produce antibodies that block different forms of the amyloid protein, which many researchers believe plays a critical role in the development of Alzheimer’s. The second drug is designed to prevent the production of amyloid protein that accumulates in the brain to form plaques, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s. The trial will involve about 1,300 research participants. Pending regulatory approval, the study is planned to begin in the late 2015/early 2016 in sites in North America and Europe, and last five years.

The new funding will support three aspects of the API APOE4 trial:

• Tau PET imaging, amyloid PET imaging, and FDG-PET imaging at baseline and two-year follow-up in 125 participants each year to determine if the two treatments change tau PET measurements and are associated with a therapeutic benefit. Tau protein helps maintain normal cell structure. In people with Alzheimer’s, tau in the brain becomes abnormal and forms tangles, one of the characteristic features of Alzheimer’s.

• The expansion of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry, which provides information about Alzheimer’s prevention research and is intended to support enrollment in the APOE4 trial and other prevention trials.

• Evaluation of two remote genetic counseling approaches using telephone versus real-time videoconference counseling. This will include measuring the psychological, behavioral and cognitive effects of APOE genotype disclosure in people who underwent both types of genetic counseling.

“Because participation in the API APOE4 trial requires knowledge of one’s genetic status, we need to determine how to best communicate the genetic risk for developing Alzheimer’s as well as how to counsel individuals on what this risk means,” said Dr. Tariot.

In September 2013, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced an initial commitment of $33.2 million in partial support for the API APOE4 trial. In July 2014, BAI announced a partnership with Novartis, which is providing its two investigational treatments and financial support. In its NIH grant applications, BAI committed to obtaining $15 million in philanthropic and in kind contributions. To support the API APOE4 trial, $5 million has been obtained through donations to the Banner Alzheimer’s Foundation. The $10 million award from the Alzheimer’s Association, GHR Foundation and Fidelity Biosciences Research Initiative completes Banner’s commitment for this trial.

Riggs G Photo 2015

Banner Alzheimer’s Institute adds new physician, researcher

Garrett Riggs, PhD, MD, an experienced behavioral neurologist with more than 15 years of  practice and research experience, is the newest provider in the Stead Family Memory Center at Phoenix-based Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, an internationally-known Alzheimer’s care and research center.

Dr. Riggs joined Banner Alzheimer’s Institute on April 13. As a provider in the Stead Family Memory Center, Dr. Riggs will provide consultations and evaluations, including laboratory tests, brain imaging and other related tests, for patients with cognitive concerns as well as participate in clinical research trials.

“Dr. Riggs is an experienced clinician and a master teacher having won just about every teaching award imaginable,” said Dr. Eric Reiman, CEO of Banner Research and Executive Director of Banner Alzheimer’s Institute. “We are extremely honored to have Garrett join the team.”

Dr. Riggs joins the Stead Family Memory Center from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando where he served as a staff neurologist in the Brain & Spine Tumor Program and the University of Central Florida College of Medicine where he was Associate Professor of Neurology and Medical Education. Dr. Riggs completed fellowships in Behavioral Neurology and Clinical Trials at the at  University of Rochester in Rochester, New York, where a principal mentor was Dr. Pierre Tariot, who now is Director of the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute. After fellowship, Dr. Riggs was hired as an Assistant Professor of Neurology in the Department of Neurology in Rochester.

Dr. Riggs has won more than 15 notable teaching awards including Most Influential First-Year Faculty Member, the Golden Apple Award and Excellence in Teaching Award at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, Neurology Faculty Teaching Award, Harry L. Segal Prize for Excellence in Third Year Teaching, and the A. B. Baker Neurology Teaching Award, a national award presented by the American Academy of Neurology.  In addition, he has served on a number of clinical and research committees at the local and regional levels.  He is also a consultant for the National Board of Medical Examiners. Dr. Riggs is affiliated with multiple professional societies including the American Academy of Neurology and the Society for Neuro-Oncology and has authored more than 20 publications in medical, scientific, and educational journals.  He is a former Associate Editor of Neurology, the official journal of the American Academy of Neurology and the most widely cited clinical neurology journal in the world.

Part of nonprofit Phoenix-based Banner Health, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute is dedicated to the goal of ending Alzheimer’s disease without losing another generation. It is helping to launch a new era of Alzheimer’s research—treatment and prevention at the pre-symptomatic stage—and to establish a new comprehensive model of care. Established in 2006 by Banner Health, one of the country’s largest nonprofit health care systems, BAI has a three-fold focus: to conduct revolutionary studies in the detection, treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s; to set a national standard of patient and family care; and to forge scientific collaborations that bring together institutions and disciplines internationally. For more information, visit www.banneralz.org.


Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry reaches 100,000

The Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry today enrolled its 100,000th volunteer interested in participating in studies aimed at preventing the disease, a significant milestone in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Championed by Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (BAI), in collaboration with partner organizations and leading scientists, the Registry (www.endALZnow.org) aims to accelerate prevention research by establishing an online community of healthy individuals who are committed to fighting the disease, informing them about the latest developments in Alzheimer’s prevention research, and connecting those who may be interested with scientists carrying out the studies.
“We are excited about the chance to enlist stakeholders in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, support their participation in prevention trials, and provide a resource of participants to help the field find treatments to end this disease as quickly as possible,” said Eric Reiman, M.D., BAI Executive Director.
The field needs faster ways to evaluate promising prevention therapies, and more efficient mechanisms to enroll interested participants in prevention trials, Reiman said. In 2011, BAI launched the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative (API) to accelerate the pace of Alzheimer’s prevention research, and it created the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry to help researchers enroll interested participants into studies.
Registry staff communicates closely with stakeholders in the international Alzheimer’s research community and provides information to Registry members about the latest developments in Alzheimer’s prevention research, scientific advances, and overall brain health. The Registry also notifies members about research opportunities taking place in their communities and how to participate if they or someone they know may be interested. Anyone 18 or older with an interest in the fight against Alzheimer’s can join the Registry.
“An estimated 80 percent of studies fail to meet recruitment goals prolonging the effort to find effective treatments,” said Jessica Langbaum, Ph.D., principal scientist at BAI and associate director of the API. “We’re excited about the crucial role the Registry is playing in overcoming recruitment barriers and advancing prevention research.”

UA-Phoenix Graduates 37 Doctors

A new group of 37 University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix medical students were officially conferred with their medical degrees at ceremonies Monday in the fourth graduation for the downtown Phoenix medical school.

Led by a bagpipe and drum corps, commencement exercises began with a procession from the college to the ceremony at Phoenix Symphony Hall. The UA College of Medicine – Phoenix has graduated 151 physicians in four years. The school opened in 2007 in what was the largest city in the nation without an allopathic (MD-granting) medical school.

UA College of Medicine – Phoenix Dean Stuart D. Flynn, MD, began Monday’s ceremony with a short description of the fourth class to complete four years of study on the downtown Phoenix campus.

“You arrived with a wonderful mix of confidence and humility, fun interpersonal skills and leadership characteristics,” Dr. Flynn said. “You have valued being trailblazers on our campus and adjectives you have used to describe your class include that you have a community feel, you are family-centered and you are all in together.”

A special hooding ceremony and the recitation of the oath were part of the ceremony, which included an address from renowned researcher Eric Reiman, MD, executive director of the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and a faculty member of the UA College of Medicine.

“I am here to tell you that you are entering our profession at the most exciting time in history, the most important moment to become a doctor,” said Dr. Reiman, who is also director of the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium. “You will have opportunities to make a difference far greater than you think, far greater than the rest of us could have imagined when we began our own careers. You will be on the frontline of a new frontier, you will transform the way health is promoted and care is provided and you will blaze the trail for generations to follow.”

Graduating senior Christian Dameff, who will be a resident in the emergency medicine department of Maricopa Integrated Health System, gave the student address.

“I am awestruck at the accomplishments of every single person in this class,” Dameff said. “The thousands of hours of volunteer work, the passion and dedication to scholarly research, the diligence they show during their study of medicine and most important, the passion and superior care they give when they treat every single one of their patients. It is truly inspiring.”

The ceremony capped a day of celebration that included a senior luncheon with graduates cited for awards by specialty and achievement in the community, for humanism and scholarship.

At the lunch, graduate Jacob Gold singled out the administration for its leadership, thank them specifically.

“For taking this school from this tiny, three high school buildings to this big building, very well respected organization that we have here,” Gold said.

Among the citations, faculty member Stephanie Briney, MD, who oversees the service learning program on campus noted that the Class of 2014 had collectively served more than 5,000 hours in clinics, teaching and other areas during their four years of medical school.

The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix opened in 2007 as a way for the state to address the critical shortage of physicians in Arizona. Nearly half of this year’s graduates from the Phoenix campus are staying in Arizona for their residencies and a similar number are pursuing primary care specialties.

banner alzheimers foundation - brain research

Banner Alzheimer’s Institute to open $16.3M Imaging Center

The opening of a $16.3 million state-of-the-art Imaging Center further cements the internationally-recognized work occurring at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (BAI) and advances statewide collaboration in Alzheimer’s disease and other neuroscientific, cardiology and oncology research.

The Imaging Center, located at BAI’s campus in Phoenix, was made possible by $9.2 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health and $7.1 million in philanthropic support from individuals, corporations and foundations. The center, which opens later this spring, will provide a shared scientific resource for researchers throughout the state and it will complement the scientific strengths of its partnering institutions.

The 18,000-square-foot facility features state-of-the-art imaging equipment including positron emission tomography (PET), CT and MRI technology. In addition, a cy*clotron and radiochemistry lab will allow the production of radiotracers to support PET studies across Arizona in the areas of neurology, oncology and cardiology. Radiotracers are used by PET researchers to study a range of biochemical and physiological processes in the brain and body.  In addition, BAI’s computational analysis laboratory will continue to develop, test, and use software to analyze PET and MRI images with unprecedented power.

“We are grateful to the National Institutes of Health, and extraordinary charitable contributions facilitated by Banner Alzheimer’s Foundation for the state-of-the-art imaging resources needed to make potentially transformational differences in the scientific fight against Alzheimer’s disease, advance cancer research, unravel mysteries of the human mind and brain and support important biomedical research collaborations throughout the state,” said Dr. Eric Reiman, CEO of Banner Research, BAI executive director, and director of the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium.

The new Imaging Center will help BAI researchers in the effort to find treatments to ending Alzheimer’s before it impacts another generation. It will also add to the arsenal of research tools used by researchers in the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium, a leading model of statewide collaboration in biomedical research.

“Members of Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium played a huge role in our effort to secure funding for the Imaging Center and will continue to be key participants in our imaging research,” added Reiman.

The Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium includes Arizona State University, Barrow Neurological Institute, Mayo Clinic Arizona, Banner Sun Health Research Institute, Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), University of Arizona and Banner Alzheimer’s Institute.

In addition to the new Imaging Center, Dr. Reiman, Dr. Pierre Tariot, and their colleagues have developed the international Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative (API) to find effective treatments to prevent Alzheimer’s disease as quickly as possible. With its first prevention trial launching later this year, API will begin to evaluate the most promising therapies and do so as quickly as possible. The API is intended to evaluate promising prevention therapies in individuals at the highest genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease, help set the stage for the field to rapidly evaluate the range of promising therapies and find ones that work as quickly as possible.

A key component of API is its national Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry. People who are passionate about combatting the disease are encouraged to sign-up at https://registry.endalznow.org/. They will receive regular updates about the latest advances in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, the promotion of brain health, and opportunities to participate in prevention studies.