The Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the University of Kentucky (UK-ADRC) is a NIH-funded (AG028383) 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 AD that serves as a critical resource for the university, community, state, and nation.

Alzheimer's Disease Research Center

An integral part of SBCoA is the National Institute on Aging-funded University of Kentucky Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (UK-ADRC). 

July 2016 — The UK-ADRC was awarded an $8.25 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue and further research and clinical initiatives geared toward treating Alzheimer's disease.  Currently, only 31 designated Alzheimer's Disease Research Centers exist in the U.S. In 1985, Sanders-Brown was among the first 10 ADRCs funded by the NIH and has been continuously funded since the designation was launched. 

Down Syndrome Aging and Alzheimer's Disease Study

Another key research area of SBCoA is the Down Syndrome Aging & Alzheimer's Disease Study (UK-DSA). The goal of this research is to follow people with Down syndrome as they get older. This will help us to understand why and who will develop dementia. Importantly, if we follow people who do not develop dementia we may be able to learn how to prevent this from occurring in others.

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 AD. 


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 AD/ 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 AD 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.

Biostatistics and Data Management

Continue the biostatistics and data management core (BDMC) 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. 

Education and Information Transfer

Continue an education and information transfer core (EITC) to support recruitment and retention activities, increase community awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, and support educational initiatives.