About Us > About the CDR

The Center for Dementia Research (CDR) is a consortium of independent laboratories and research programs at the Nathan Kline Institute (NKI). Directed by Ralph A. Nixon, Ph.D., M.D., the CDR comprises 9 principal investigators and more than 50 staff, dedicated to CDRconducting studies on etiology, prevention, treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. Affiliated with New York University Langone Medical Center (NYULMC), NKI is one of two major institutes for psychiatric research supported in part by the Office of Mental Health of the State of New York. In the 25 years since its establishment at NKI, the CDR has rapidly become an internationally recognized research center, drawing talented and highly respected researchers, technical staff and trainees worldwide, and bringing millions of federal dollars annually to New York to help support its mission.

Recognized for an innovative conceptual approach to AD therapy development, CDR researchers received more than $30 million in National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants during the last three years, including a fourth renewal of a $12 million multi-investigator NIH Program Project Grant to continue pioneering investigations on anomalies of the endosomal–lysosomal pathway that arise in the AD brain before β-amyloid deposition and decades before clinical AD symptoms. These studies have identified novel disease targets and yielded candidate therapeutic agents, including one recently shown to lower CSF markers of neurodegeneration in a phase 2 clinical trial, and additional patented compounds being validated in the CDR or with industry partners.

Center programs in the past 10 years have yielded more than 300 peer reviewed publications, which have been cited more than 60,000 times, contributing to NKI’s ranking in the top 1 percent of research institutions nationwide in citations per publication. Research accomplishments by CDR investigators include discovery of the first amyloid precursor protein (APP) mutation in a human disease and the earliest known disease-specific neuronal defects in the AD brain. Additional CDR discoveries include novel mechanisms linking genes causing early onset AD to defects in cellular waste clearance (autophagy) that are the basis of new drug discovery programs worldwide. The paradigm-shifting discovery of novel synaptic roles for neurofilament proteins implicated prominently in neuropsychiatric diseases has revealed new clues to pathogenesis and a basis for the emerging clinical utility of these proteins as disease biomarkers.

For their work, CDR researchers have received the highest awards bestowed by the National Institutes for Health, the National Alzheimer's Association, and other organizations and publish in the most prestigious journals in science (Cell, PNAS, Nature, Science, Neuron, and others). To learn more about the research performed at our laboratories, please visit our research page.