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Research Summary

The Albers Laboratory uses the olfactory system of mice and humans to examine early pathologic events of neurodegeneration to find: (1) a detailed mechanistic understanding of early pathogenic processes that are modifiable or reversible, and (2) a means to detect early stages of these diseases in humans before the onset of symptoms and distinguish early pathologic events from changes produced by aging.

In the laboratory, we combine molecular biological, anatomical, physiological and behavioral techniques to test hypotheses regarding the mechanism of actions of genes associated with neurodegenerative disease. We have generated transgenic mouse lines that express genes associated with Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases in defined olfactory neuron populations with temporal control using a tetracycline-regulated transcription factor. We will be extending this experimental approach to genes associated with other neurodegenerative diseases, such as frontal temporal dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

In human studies, an odor-naming deficit is one of the strongest biomarkers to predict the development of AD in a person with mild memory complaints. We have identified ten odors that independently predict the conversion of people with mild cognitive impairment to patients with AD. We are using these ten odors in an odor-induced fMRI paradigm to decipher areas of the olfactory neural circuit that are selectively affected early in the disease course. Results from these studies will inform the development of the next generation of olfactory screening tests and identify sites in the olfactory neural circuit for further study in the mouse system.

Research Positions

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Publications

For a complete list of publications, please visit the NCBI PubMed Publications page.