• Press Release

Sanford J. Grossman Charitable Trust Pledges $5.9 Million to Establish Interdisciplinary Center in Neural Circuitry and Immune Function at Mount Sinai

Gift will help Mount Sinai expand its decades-long commitment to curing Alzheimer’s disease

  • New York, NY
  • (March 15, 2021)

The Sanford J. Grossman Charitable Trust, founded by renowned economist and philanthropist Sanford J. Grossman, PhD, has committed $5.9 million to establish the Sanford Grossman Interdisciplinary Center in Neural Circuitry and Immune Function at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The Center will leverage the unique capabilities of Mount Sinai’s leading experts in Alzheimer’s disease, genetics, stem cells, imaging, clinical neurology, neuropathology and the Mount Sinai BioMe biobank to create tools for early diagnosis, and to uncover novel mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease that can aid in the development of therapeutics for this devastating and widespread disease.  

 “Alzheimer’s disease causes progressive damage to the brain over relatively long periods of time so early diagnosis and treatment is crucial,” said Dr. Grossman. “We hope to develop tools for early diagnosis and for early measurement of disease progression before cognitive decline appears.  We also hope to elucidate the role of mis-regulated immune response in the course of the disease.”

“As leaders with decades of experience at the forefront of Alzheimer’s disease research and clinical care, we are deeply grateful to the Sanford J. Grossman Charitable Trust for this generous gift that will open possibilities to explore new roads toward novel therapeutics that are desperately needed for a disease that robs so many people of their minds and countless families of their loved ones,” said Kenneth L. Davis, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Mount Sinai Health System.

Housed within The Charles Bronfman Institute for Personalized Medicine and The Friedman Brain Institute, the program will be led by a team that includes Alison M. Goate, DPhil, a highly regarded neuropsychiatric disease researcher and molecular geneticist who led the team that identified the first genetic causes of Alzheimer’s disease; Trey Hedden, PhD, a leader in neuroimaging research who has extensive experience in the design and use of task-based functional MRI to test how age-related changes impact memory and executive function; and Judy H. Cho, MD, an investigator who has extensive experience defining the genetic architecture underlying differentiation of distinct immune cell subsets who is committed to translating genetic and genomic discoveries into personalized treatment solutions. Other key leaders from the departments of Neuroscience, Neurology, and Diagnostic, Molecular and Interventional Radiology will contribute to the Grossman Center’s mission.

The center’s first collaborative longitudinal study will, over the course of seven years, focus on the development of a unique cohort of patients who will be recruited from within Mount Sinai’s BioMe Biobank, a biobank with complete exome sequencing (a genomic technique for sequencing all of the protein-coding regions of genes in the genome) on more than 56,000 Mount Sinai patients who consented to have their DNA and plasma collected and stored for research and who also agreed to be recontacted for deeper dive studies and for health findings where we have the ability to intervene in some capacity, be it illness now or predictors of something possible in the future.

Breaking from the historical approach of modeling one gene at a time, the Grossman Center team will approach Alzheimer’s disease modeling differently, initially by conducting a genome-wide assessment to identify and follow 100 middle-aged individuals who are at high/low risk for the disease. They will develop induced pluripotent stem cells from these individuals that can be grown into microglia, immune cells of the brain, to examine the behavior of these personalized cells in a dish, rendering a broader picture of how a cell’s function changes in response to an individual’s specific risk factors. In parallel, the team will undertake a longitudinal study of these individuals, using the most advanced neuropsychological and neuroimaging approaches to examine the underlying brain changes that occur early during the development of Alzheimer’s disease and to garner a uniquely informed view of each individual’s biomarker trajectory. They will also conduct molecular studies of postmortem brain tissue to further elucidate changes specific to individualized risk and disease progression. This level of in-depth understanding will vastly improve our ability to diagnose and predict the disease early, and to create tailored treatments.

This collaborative project is an important step towards creative advanced therapies for Alzheimer’s disease. Through this multifaceted study, the team expects a better understanding of the factors that contribute to risk and resilience for Alzheimer’s disease at both cellular and neuroimaging levels.

“We are excited to combine a longitudinal imaging study of people at high and low risk with novel mechanistic studies in cells from the same individuals, which we hope will lead to the identification of disease risk and protective pathways that could be targets for novel therapeutics,” says Dr. Goate. “This generous gift and Dr. Grossman’s commitment to rigorous scientific inquiry, coupled with his dedication to create connectivity between disciplines, is enabling us to embark on this promising work.”

About the Mount Sinai Health System

Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with 48,000 employees working across eight hospitals, more than 400 outpatient practices, more than 600 research and clinical labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time—discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.

Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 9,000 primary and specialty care physicians and 11 free-standing joint-venture centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida. Hospitals within the System are consistently ranked by Newsweek’s® “The World’s Best Smart Hospitals, Best in State Hospitals, World Best Hospitals and Best Specialty Hospitals” and by U.S. News & World Report's® “Best Hospitals” and “Best Children’s Hospitals.” The Mount Sinai Hospital is on the U.S. News & World Report® “Best Hospitals” Honor Roll for 2023-2024.

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