Alzheimer's, Brain & Genomics Research
- Occupation: Psychiatrist & Brain Imaging Researcher
- Alternative career choice: Architect or orthopedic surgeon. (I would have been awful as either.)
- What do rock stars and scienctists have in common: A passion for our work, the chance to make a difference in people's lives, and the determination, team work, and good luck needed to be successful.
- Musical Instrument I Play: None
- I tend to approach life: With a sense of wonder, appreciation, and responsibility, a wish for more time, and the occasional need to be reminded that "life is not a dress rehearsal."
- Biggest misconceptions about me or my work: That I could have accomplished anything at all on my own.
- Worst part-time job ever: One summer after high school, my brother and I rented an ice cream truck. When a blackout caused the truck's plug-in freezer to stop working, we saw our investment melt away.
- Longest med school study session: I'll let you know when it's over.
- Best moment in medicine/research: Every time we get to ask an interesting and important question or bring together the research strategy, methods and people needed to address it. Every time we get the chance to make a new discovery or make a difference in people's lives. What could be better than that?
About My Research
Disease Area: Alzheimer's disease
Research Area: Brain imaging, genomics, and the prevention of Alzheimer's disease
Science Impact/Accomplishments or Goal: To end Alzheimer's disease without losing another generation, set a new standard of care for patients and families, and provide a model of collaboration in biomedical research. I believe that now is the time to launch the era of Alzheimer's prevention research, establish both the means and accelerated regulatory approval pathway needed to evaluate the range of promising ""presymptomatic Alzheimer's disease treatments"" in the most rapid and rigorous way, and find one that works as quickly as possible. In my opinion, the stakes could not be greater, nor the opportunity now at hand. We need the sense of urgency, the right public policies and funding mechanisms, and the right scientific paradigm to get the job done?long before today's young adults become senior citizens.
Research Description: My colleagues and I originally focused on the use of brain imaging techniques to investigate how different brain regions and cognitive processes work to orchestrate normal human behaviors, like emotion and memory, and how they conspire to produce certain behavioral disorders. We also developed image analysis strategies, such as the concept of ""image averaging,"" to assist in this endeavor. Since the early 1990's, we have used resources from complementary scientific disciplines to detect and track brain changes associated with Alzheimer's disease, starting decades before the onset of symptoms. This helps characterize risk factors and molecular mechanisms, set the stage to evaluate promising prevention therapies using brain imaging and other biomarker measurements, and develop research strategies with improved power to address important scientific questions. Our ultimate goal is to find demonstrably effective treatments to reduce or completely prevent the risk of Alzheimer's disease as soon as possible."
Dr. Reiman is Executive Director of the non-profit Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix, Arizona. He is also Chief Scientific Officer at the Banner Research Institute, Clinical Director of the Neurogenomics Division at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona, and Director of the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium. His research interests include brain imaging, genomics, the unusually early detection, tracking & study of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and the rapid evaluation of AD-modifying and prevention therapies. He and his colleagues have argued that it takes too many healthy people and too many years to evaluate treatments to prevent AD, and they have proposed a new paradigm to evaluate the range of promising prevention therapies more quickly than otherwise possible.
Dr. Reiman received his undergraduate and medical degrees at Duke University, his residency training in Psychiatry at Duke and Washington University, and his training in positron emission tomography (PET) research as a resident and faculty member at Washington University under the mentorship of Dr. Marcus Raichle. He and his colleagues have used brain imaging techniques to investigate how regions of the human brain work in concert to orchestrate normal human behaviors, like emotion and memory, and how they conspire to produce behavioral disorders. Along the way, they developed new brain mapping techniques, including a way to mold each person’s image into a standard shape and average images from different people that helped lead to a new era in the study of the human mind and brain.
In 1993, he and his Arizona colleagues turned their attention to the problem of AD. They have used imaging techniques to detect and track brain changes in people at genetic risk for AD, starting decades before the onset of symptoms. They developed a new way to rapidly evaluate AD risk factors and a rapid way to evaluate promising prevention therapies in people at risk for AD using imaging methods, and their work has provided a springboard for other studies. For instance, they have used advanced research methods to implicate several common genes in the risk of AD and a common gene that may contribute to individual differences in normal memory performance; they continue to develop imaging tools with improved power to study AD and evaluate AD-modifying treatments.
In 1998, Dr. Reiman and his colleagues established the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium, the leading example of statewide collaboration in AD research. The Consortium is comprised of about 150 researchers and support staff from seven biomedical research institutions, including Arizona State University, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, Banner Sun Health Research Institute, Barrow Neurological Institute, Mayo Clinic Arizona, TGen and University of Arizona. It capitalizes on complementary resources from different scientific disciplines and institutions, and it continues to make major contributions to the scientific study of AD.
In 2006, he and his colleagues established the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, which is intended to evaluate promising pre-symptomatic treatments as quickly as possible, establish a new standard of care that addresses the family’s full range of medical and non-medical needs, and forge a model of multi-institutional collaboration in biomedical research.
Most recently, Dr.Reiman and his colleagues proposed an “Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative” to conduct the first prevention trials of investigational medication or immunization therapies in cognitively normal people who, based on their age and genetic background, are at the highest imminent risk of AD symptoms. They hope to conduct the first prevention trials of amyloid-modifying treatments as early as 2012 and establish the scientific means and accelerated FDA approval pathway needed to evaluate a range of promising prevention therapies as quickly as possible. In this way, they are determined to help launch the era of AD prevention research and try to find demonstrably effective treatments to end AD without losing another generation.