Biomarkers of Cognitive Impairment

The biomarker core is integrated with the other Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC) cores, and we have added blood biomarker measures to our monthly clinical-pathological consensus conferences so that we can begin to understand what blood measures may indicate with respect to brain pathology and clinical symptoms. The biomarker core aims to develop blood-based biomarkers, and imaging based biomarkers, to discriminate the underlying cause of an individual’s cognitive impairment so that we can begin to move in a precision medicine direction for the treatment of cognitive impairment and dementia. 

Important discoveries by the core to date include:

  1. Development of accurate brain imaging methods to identify early stages of cerebrovascular disease;
  2. Linking specific cerebrospinal fluid and plasma biomarkers with specific brain imaging patterns;
  3. White matter hyperintensities do not behave the same way in every individual. We have found that they can grow over time in some individuals, remain stable, or in some cases even regress; 
  4. Plasma biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease are emerging as promising alternatives to costly imaging to determine brain amyloid load, but more testing needs to be done and is currently being performed in the core; and, 
  5. There are inflammatory biomarkers that appear to be associated with cerebrovascular disease. 

Goals of the Core

The overall goal of the UK ADRC biomarker core is to perform state-of-the-art neuroimaging and fluid assessments to develop novel biomarkers for diagnosis and precision medicine. A biomarker describes a measure that is indicative of a specific pathological process. The biomarker core was added to the ADRC in 2018 and the primary goals of the core are to: 


Analyze existing MRI, PET, and blood and cerebrospinal fluid samples for measures of Alzheimer’s disease, cerebrovascular disease, neurodegeneration, and inflammation.

Data Integration

Integrate all biomarker data into the ADRC database so that data can be analyzed in addition to the other data on our research participants.

Data for Researchers

Provide biomarker data to researchers whose laboratories are studying these and other biomarkers.

Data for ADC

Provide biomarker data to the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center for integration with other ADRC datasets and nationwide sharing of data to advance the study of Alzheimer’s and dementia. 

Brian T. Gold, PhD

Co-Director, UK-ADRC Biomarker Core

MN 364
Medical Science Building
800 Rose Street
Lexington, KY

(859) 323-4813 (office)

Peter Nelson, MD, PhD

Co-Director, UK-ADRC Biomarker Core

Room 311
Sanders-Brown Center on Aging
800 S. Limestone St.
Lexington, KY

(859) 218-3862 (office)
(859) 323-2866 (fax)

Senior Investigators

  • Greg Jicha, MD, PhD
  • Riham El-Khouli, MD
  • Chris Bauer, PhD
  • Valentinos Zachariou, PhD
  • Ahmed Bahrani, PhD


  • David Powell, PhD, MRI Physicist
  • Tiffany Lee, Fluid Biomarker Manager, Scientist III
  • Brandon Ramey, Data Coordinator