Changes in Functioning Among Adults with Mental Retardation

Principal Investigator: Wayne Silverman

 The major objectives of this program of research are to: (1) study the basic biological mechanisms that underlie Alzheimer disease (AD), focusing explicitly on the adult population with Down Syndrome (DS); (2) quantitatively document the clinical progression in this unique population; and (3) validate assessment methods and classification criteria with the potential for use in clinical service settings. The results of this research will have clear practical value for improving diagnosis of dementia in adults with DS. The methods are also designed to identify avenues that can be pursued in the rational development of strategies for treatment and prevention of AD.

This represents the continuation of a Program Project grant, originally funded in 1987, and now being transferred to the Kennedy Krieger Institute/Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine because the PI has accepted a position here. Thus, this continues a large, integrated and multifaceted program of research focused on developmental aging and dementia of the Alzheimer type (DAT) within the population with mental retardation (MR) through 2008. All assessments of human subjects will be conducted by research staff at institutions other than the Kennedy Krieger Institute or any facility of Johns Hopkins University. These procedures will either be identical to or modified subtly from those employed for over a decade. (For examples, different assays are planned for serum but the collection process will remain unchanged; direct assessments and staff interviews will have some additions and deletions but the general features of the procedures will remain unchanged).

All participants undergo a formal evaluation, which includes: (1) clinical record reviews; (2) staff interviews; (3) cognitive assessment; (4) collection of blood samples; and (5) physical/neurological evaluation. All procedures involving direct interactions with human subjects will continue to be conducted by staff of the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities (IBR) through the Assessment Core. The IRB at IBR has approved this research study. Anonymized data and blood samples will continue to be distributed to the respective Principal Investigators of the subprojects. Below are brief descriptions of each component of the program project grant. (not included here due to space constraints)