Newswise — (NEW YORK – February 19) Renowned neuropsychiatric researcher Alison Goate, PhD, has joined the Mount Sinai Health System as the founding Director of the Ronald M. Loeb Center for Alzheimer’s Disease. Established by a recent $15 million gift from Daniel S. Loeb, CEO and Founder of Third Point, LLC and his wife, Margaret Munzer Loeb, in memory of Daniel’s father, Ronald M. Loeb, the center will provide a focus for a network of research programs closely tied to research and clinical initiatives across the Health System.

As a molecular geneticist, Dr. Goate has established an international reputation for her research to elucidate the genetic, molecular and cellular basis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and related neurodegenerative disorders.

“Alison brings to Mount Sinai a research history distinguished by its translational and interdisciplinary focus, integrating molecular and genetic studies,” says Eric Nestler, MD, PhD, Nash Family Professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience and Director of the Friedman Brain Institute in the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Her research team will help Mount Sinai play a global leading role in finding new and better treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders.”

She has identified key gene mutations linked to the heritable risk for Alzheimer’s disease, including her finding that a rare mutation of the PLD3 gene doubles the risk of developing late onset AD. Prior to joining Mount Sinai, Dr. Goate led a team of researchers at Washington University, St. Louis, that performed the largest ever genome-wide association study of protein markers found in cerebrospinal fluid, resulting in the discovery of three genetic variants that may come with an increased risk of developing AD.

“Alison Goate is truly one of the chief architects of the genomics revolution happening in Alzheimer’s disease research,” says Mount Sinai President and Chief Executive Officer Kenneth L. Davis, MD. “Under her leadership, we will bring together Mount Sinai’s core competencies in genomics, bioinformatics, imaging and clinical trials to vigorously pursue major breakthroughs for a disease that touches so many lives.”

As Director of the Ronald M. Loeb Center for Alzheimer’s Disease at Mount Sinai, Dr. Goate will recruit new talent in areas such as induced pluripotent stem cells or IPSCs. In this line of research, researchers take a patient’s skin cells, for instance and coax them back along the differentiation pathway to become stem cells. These induced cells can then be differentiated into any kind of cell in the body, including neurons. Because the resulting cells are genetically identical to those found in the donor, researchers can use them to model disease and safely investigate the efficacy of new drug treatments at the cellular level in a way not previously possible.

“Alison is a transformative recruit to Mount Sinai,” says Dennis S. Charney, MD, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and President for Academic Affairs for the Mount Sinai Health System. “Our mission is nothing less than discovering the causes and better treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and related conditions. Through Dr. Goate’s leadership of the Ronald M. Loeb Center for Alzheimer’s Disease, Mount Sinai is one of the nation’s few centers capable of achieving these ambitious goals.”

Dr. Goate will also establish ties between the Center and the many basic and clinical researchers across the Mount Sinai Health System focused on neurodegenerative disorders. In particular, she will work closely with: the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, funded by the National Health Institute’s National Institute on Aging and directed by Mary Sano, PhD, one of the nation’s leaders in clinical trials of Alzheimer’s disease; the Center for Cognitive Health, directed by Sam Gandy, MD, PhD, an expert on the amyloid plaque protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease; and faculty of the Icahn Institute for Genomics & Multiscale Biology, directed by Eric Schadt, PhD, who have an NIA-funded program that applies multi-scale biology to Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, Dr. Goate has an established research program on the genetics of alcoholism and so will broaden Mount Sinai’s portfolio in this disorder as well.

The team at the Ronald M. Loeb Center will have access to innovative new MRI and PET technology (Mount Sinai is one of the few sites in the U.S. with such advanced technology) and the Minerva supercomputer, the largest supercomputer ever constructed for the purpose of genomic investigation, to aid in their endeavors.

About the Mount Sinai Health SystemThe Mount Sinai Health System is an integrated health system committed to providing distinguished care, conducting transformative research, and advancing biomedical education. Structured around seven member hospital campuses and a single medical school, the Health System has an extensive ambulatory network and a range of inpatient and outpatient services—from community‐based facilities to tertiary and quaternary care.

The System includes approximately 6,600 primary and specialty care physicians, 12‐minority‐owned free‐standing ambulatory surgery centers, over 45 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, and Long Island, as well as 31 affiliated community health centers. Physicians are affiliated with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, which is ranked among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institutes of Health funding and by U.S. News & World Report.

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