Taub Institute: Genomics Core


Columbia University
Irving Medical Center
Neurological Institute

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(212) 305-1818

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Taub Institute news and events


2024 - present | 2023 - 2011

  • The European Medial Journal Interview with Yaakov Stern, PhD

    The European Medial Journal interviewed Yaakov Stern, PhD, Florence Irving Professor of Neuropsychology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center about his early career interests and the journey that led him to focus on conducting research on cognition and aging. Dr. Stern discusses the history of Alzheimer's disease research and how it has developed over the course of his career. The interview further offers current takeaways from his research, and what needs, challenges, and personal goals Dr. Stern aims to achieve in his work [read the interview]

    Source: European Medial Journal

  • Healthy Aging Summit Unites Medical Center in Shared Goals

    April 24, 2024

    The CUIMC Healthy Aging Initiative (CHAI), with the support of the Four Deans Fund and the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center, organized the Healthspan Extension Summit that focused on the rapidly growing aging population around the globe and the challenges that long lifespan presents. Researchers across various disciplines at CUIMC presented their ideas on what can be done to insure healthy quality of life for the aging world’s population.

    Adam Brickman, PhDJennifer Manly, PhDScott Small, MD, from the Department of Neurology, presented their research findings and led panel discussions on age-related illness. [read more]

  • Rare Genetic Variation May Protect Against Alzheimer’s Disease

    The APOEε4 gene variant is a major genetic risk factor for developing Alzheimer's disease (AD) later in life. People with two copies of this variant are almost certain to develop the disease, yet some people with this variant do not get dementia and scientists are still figuring out why. In a recent study,  a team of investigators led by Drs. Badri Vardarajan, Caghan Kizil, and Richard Mayeux analyzed the genetic data of 3,500 individuals from over 700 families of different ethnic backgrounds. Their findings, published in Acta Neuropathologica and highlighted in the CUIMC Newsroom, revealed 510 genetic variants that might protect against AD. These protective variants mainly affect the genes involved with the brain's blood barrier system. Notably, one specific variant in the fibronectin (FN1) gene stood out. Research involving over 11,000 participants from Columbia, Stanford, and Washington universities showed that this FN1 variant can reduce the risk of AD by 71% and delay its onset by about four years. It does this by reducing the buildup of certain proteins and inflammation in the brain's blood vessels. Experiments with zebrafish and human brain studies after death showed that losing FN1 function helps clear harmful amyloid proteins and improves the activity of immune cells in the brain. This groundbreaking research opens up new possibilities for treating Alzheimer's disease by targeting the brain's blood vessels.

  • The Hidden Realities of Dementia in Underrepresented Communities

    Associate Research Scientist Sharon Sanz Simon, PhD was interviewed for the Alzheimer's Association inaugural ISTAART Voices global podcasts about her work with Brazilian immigrants. Dr. Sanz Simon talked about the challenges this community faces, and discussed the need for more research on Alzheimer's disease and related dementias in this underrepresented population. One of the goals of her research is to develop more culturally sensitive intervention strategies for aging and dementia prevention in the Brazilian community living in the US. [listen to the podcast]

  • Dr. Rafael Lantigua Honored with Presidential Medal for his Contributions to Dominican Community

    Rafael A. Lantigua, MD, Professor of Medicine and Dean's Special Advisor for Community Health Affairs at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, received the Presidential Volunteer Award from New York State Senator Luis SepĂşlveda. Dr. Lantigua was also honored with resolutions enacted in the New York State Senate and Assembly, which celebrated Dr. Lantigua's significant impact. [read more]

    Source: CUIMC Newsroom

  • Study Shows a Healthy Diet is Linked with a Slower Pace of Aging, Reduced Dementia Risk

    March 14, 2024

    A healthier diet is associated with a reduced dementia risk and slower pace of aging, according to a new study at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and The Robert Butler Columbia Aging Center. The findings show that a diet-dementia association was at least partially facilitated by multi-system processes of aging. While literature had suggested that people who followed a healthy diet experienced a slowdown in the processes of biological aging and were less likely to develop dementia, until now the biological mechanism of this protection was not well understood. The results are published in the Annals of Neurology.

    “We have some strong evidence that a healthy diet can protect against dementia,” said Yian Gu, PhD, associate professor of Neurological Sciences at Columbia Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and head of the Mailman School Neuroepidemiology Unit, and the other senior author of the study, “But the mechanism of this protection is not well understood.” Past research linked both diet and dementia risk to an accelerated pace of biological aging. [read more]

    Source: CUIMC Newsroom

  • James Noble, MD, MS Inducted into the Academy of Community and Public Service

    February 7, 2024

    Associate Professor of Neurology James Noble, MD, MS, along with nine other faculty members from Columbia University Irving Medical Center, was recently inducted into the Academy of Community and Public Service (ACPS) in recognition of his exceptional efforts to promote health, well-being, and overall quality of life in the local communities of upper Manhattan, as well as nationally and globally.

    At the event, Professor of Neurology and Vice Dean of Community Health Dr. Olajide Williams, a co-chair of ACPS, said of the awardees, “The work and dedication to community and public service of the people here today are nothing short of inspiring. I’m a big believer in inspiration, because inspiration is what sparks imagination, and imagination sparks innovation. And it’s innovation that is truly going to move us to a place where we can finally say, ‘out of many, we are one.’” [read more]

    Source: CUIMC Newsroom

  • A Multidisciplinary Approach to Neurological Care Driven by Diverse Interests

    February 7, 2024

    5 Questions With Dr. James Noble

    Dr. James Noble isn’t one for being boxed in. The neurologist and neuroepidemiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia is an expert in dementia, but a sampling of his work reflects his broad clinical and research interests: He’s investigating the link between periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s disease. He’s developed a prototype for a device that helps diagnose concussions in real time. He’s researching how hip-hop can be used in health education and cofounded a nonprofit, Arts & Minds, to support the power of visual arts in improving wellness for dementia patients and caretakers.

    These seemingly disparate projects all tie together for Dr. Noble. “First, I’m passionate about each of them. They tend to reflect a problem that I’m trying to solve or a question that I’m trying to answer,” he says. “And second, if I can prove in a methodical and scientifically rigorous way that all these things can make a difference for people, I believe they are worth doing.” [read more]

    Source: NYP Advances

  • Danurys L. Sanchez Receives Martha A. Hooven Award for Community Service Excellence

    February 1, 2024

    On January 23, 2024, Senior Staff Associate Danurys L. Sanchez and five other awardees were honored by Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S) with Martha A. Hooven Awards for Excellence. These awards are given annually to recognize individuals at VP&S who make significant contributions to the medical school’s workplace and community.

    This year, Danurys (Didi) and her co-awardees were chosen from more than 160 nominations. This is the second time that Didi has received a Martha A. Hooven Award for Excellence, as mentioned by Dr. Olajide Williams, professor of neurology and vice dean of community health, who presented the award [watch the ceremony, with Didi's award beginning at 10:25.] “Didi understands cultural humanity; she understands mutual respect; she understands that the dedication to health justice is the only way to achieve strong recruitment and retention from our local community,” explains Dr. Williams.

    In accepting the award, Didi was quick to credit the dedication of her team and colleagues, noting that she is “surrounded every day by people who are leaving their marks in this community…we are doing so much, and my deeds out there are a testament that I’m not by myself.”

    The faculty and staff of the Department of Neurology, the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain, and the Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center congratulate Didi on this well-deserved honor!

    Community Service Award

    Danurys L. Sanchez is a senior staff associate for the Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center, where she collaborates with principal investigators to ensure the fulfillment of the center’s research mission. She has been a key team member for the Washington Heights-Inwood Columbia Aging Project since 2007, working to recruit participants, connect community members with relevant health care providers and social services, and increase community understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. She also helps connect departments, faculty members, and researchers with community organizations, creating networks for all parties to collaborate and share resources.

  • Fishing for Insights into Human Disease

    January 18, 2024
    By Gary Goldenberg

    Over the years, zebrafish (and to a lesser extent killifish) have become an important experimental model in biomedical research, thanks to their genetic similarity to humans, transparent embryos, rapid development, and regenerative abilities, among other features. Columbia researchers are using these finned wonders to gain insights into human health and disease. Caghan Kizil, PhD, MSc, Associate Professor of Neurological Sciences in Neurology and in the Taub Institute, uses zebrafish in his research on Alzheimer's disease. [read more about how other Columbia researchers are using zebrafish in their work]

    Can zebrafish teach us how to regenerate neurons?
    No one would argue that zebrafish, whose brains are the size of a sesame seed, are smarter than humans. But these tiny aquatic animals can do a few tricks that humans cannot, such as growing scores of new brain neurons in response to neurological pathologies such as Alzheimer’s disease or injury, even well into adulthood. In contrast, once past childhood, humans can manage to regenerate only a smattering of neurons, a rate that declines even more with disease.

    Using zebrafish as a model organism, Caghan Kizil, PhD, associate professor of neurological sciences (in neurology and in the Taub Institute) at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, is gaining new insights into the molecular mechanisms that underlie neuronal regeneration, or neurogenesis.

    “The beauty of zebrafish is that we can get human-relevant experimental results in weeks instead of months or years with other animal models,” adds Kizil. “We can even get these fish to perform memory tests to investigate the cognitive consequences of therapeutic interventions for neurological diseases.”

    Thus far, Kizil’s studies have revealed a key molecule (nerve growth factor receptor) that controls nerve regeneration in zebrafish. The same molecule appears to be active in humans during early development but not in Alzheimer’s patients.

    “If we could kickstart neurogenesis in humans, we might be able to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s by enhancing the brain’s resilience,” says Kizil. His team has already identified two potential targets for drug therapy. The researchers are designing compounds to selectively hit those targets, which they will evaluate in zebrafish.

    Source: CUIMC Newsroom

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