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Topic
50 million people worldwide are now suffering from dementia; however, the exact causes remain elusive. Vascular Cognitive Impairment and Dementia (VCID) due to cerebrovascular diseases and pathologies represents 20~40% of the dementia cases, and largely overlaps with AD in terms of pathologies and pathogenic factors.

We have been working with two groups of genetic risk factors that are vascular residents but can either predispose individual to cerebrovascular diseases or strongly modify the course of AD and VCID. Although this is just the first peek through the looking glass, yet our finding has brought new insight into the genetic causes of VCID and AD, suggesting that a better understanding the etiology and pathogenesis of AD and VICD, especially decoding the common genetic causes may help us define the etiology in a subset of cases, and land more effective therapeutics for them in the near future.
Zhen Zhao Ph.D
Assistant Professor of Physiology & Neuroscience, University of Southern California

Publications:
Nature Medicine/Cell/Cell Stem Cells/Neuron/Nature/Nat Neurosci/Blood/Nat Coumun

Grant:
2 NIH funds

Research Directions:
To search for the genetic causes of vascular cognitive impairment and dementia.
To study the molecular mechanism of the receptor-mediated transport at the blood-brain barrier.
To examine the crosstalk between the cells within the neurovascular unit.