Alzheimer's Disease Research Center

An integral part of Sanders-Brown Center on Aging (SBCoA) is the National Institute on Aging-funded University of Kentucky Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (UK-ADRC). Over the past 35 years, the UK-ADRC has developed a vigorous program in the clinical, neuropathological, educational, and research aspects of Alzheimer's disease that serves as a critical resource for the university, community, state, and nation.

September 2022 — A team of researchers at the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging (SBCoA) is awarded a $20.5 million grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue and further research and clinical initiatives geared toward beating Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Currently, only 33 designated Alzheimer's Disease Research Centers exist in the U.S. In 1985, SBCoA was among the first 10 ADCs funded by the NIH and has been continuously funded since the designation was launched. 


The University of Kentucky Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (UK-ADRC) is a NIH-funded (P30 AG072946) mature and experienced ADRC. The UK-ADRC is housed in the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging (SBCoA), a Kentucky Center of Excellence that facilitates clinical and basic research in healthy brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders.

Our principal mission is to serve as the focal point for all Alzheimer’s disease-related activities at UK and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, by providing an environment and core resources that catalyze innovative research, outreach, education, and clinical programs.

Over the past 35 years, we have developed a vigorous program in the clinical, neuropathological, educational, and research aspects of Alzheimer’s disease that serves as a critical resource for the university, community, state, and nation.

Two of the historically outstanding facets of the UK-ADRC are:

Autopsy Program

A strong autopsy program providing clinical-neuropathological correlation and short postmortem interval (PMI) research material.

Data / Subjects

A unique, continuously replenished group of ~500 cognitively intact subjects followed longitudinally, together with the initially normal who transition to MCI or Alzheimer’s disease, and all committed to brain donation upon death.

These signature resources have contributed to our becoming one of the premier center’s defining pathogenic mechanisms underlying the transitions from normal cognitive aging to Alzheimer’s disease.


The UK-ADRC focus is on two interrelated themes: transitions and translation. Our overall emphasis is to more effectively bridge the gap between basic research and clinical studies by facilitating translational efforts. We will also carefully characterize transitions across the spectrum of cognitive impairment (normal/preclinical Alzheimer’s disease/ MCI/ dementia), with focus on definition of early disease.

The ADRC provides an infrastructure and environment that focus on these integrated themes and advance multidisciplinary, innovative Alzheimer’s disease research through the pursuit of six overall aims.


Provide strong leadership and an administrative structure that support and facilitate basic and clinical research to understand the early transitions to cognitive decline and identify potential intervention strategies that promote cohesiveness and dynamic interactions among the cores to create new opportunities for innovative Alzheimer’s disease research at UK and beyond, and support NIA major initiatives.


Support a clinical core that maintains a central longitudinal cohort of 500 cognitively intact subjects and 300 cognitively impaired subjects with a major focus on early cognitive transitions from normal and from mild cognitive impairment to facilitate research projects, and use this infrastructure to support an integrated translational clinical trials team to evaluate potential new therapeutic interventions.


Maintain and expand the successful Minority Gateway Satellite Clinic to recruit African Americans, with overall goals that emphasize clinical evaluation and longitudinal follow-up, education of the community about Alzheimer’s disease, and increased participation in research.

Data Management and Statistical Core

Continue the data management and statistical core (DMSC) that maintains an integrated centralized database, provides expertise on experimental design and analysis, and interfaces with other ADRCs and with NACC. The BDMC will contribute innovative statistical expertise to characterize clinical transitions.


Maintain a neuropathology core that performs state-of-the-art neuropathological services for the UK-ADRC clinical cohort and maintains a tissue bank from well-characterized, short PMI autopsy subjects from across the cognitive spectrum, as well as serum and CSF from living subjects to support research. 

Outreach, Recruitment, and Engagement Core

Continue outreach efforts to support recruitment and retention activities, increase community awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, and support engagement initiatives.