Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas

Dr. Rachelle Doody explains Alzheimer's research at Baylor College of Medicine.

May 4, 2009 -- My name is Rachelle Doody and I am the Director of the Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders Center here at Baylor College of Medicine. We have a very unique institution here, in part because we are dedicated both to patient care and to research. And our research includes everything from laboratory research to studies of the whole population.

Some of the things that we're studying right now are the mechanisms by which people remember. And one of our scientists in the laboratory has identified a simple switch inside of cells that determines whether or not people, or whether or not animals, in this case, are able to lay down memories. So, we're studying the mechanisms of learning and memory, we're studying the neurogenetics of Alzheimer's disease, and we have a researcher who is studying mouse and other animal models of Alzheimer's disease in order to aid in the development of new therapeutic approaches. It's very important that we be able to take discoveries made in basic research and apply them to humans in the clinic. So we're very focused on translational research here at Baylor College of Medicine.

We have a training program called translational biology in molecular medicine, in which our students have the opportunity to study both basic research and have clinical exposure through a clinical mentor. We're very interested in some projects related to biological markers of Alzheimer's disease as well as the development of new therapeutics and our center's very active in designing protocols to test new therapeutic agents as well as offering the opportunity to our patients to participate in drug development research. We have researchers in our center who are epidemiologists who are trying to understand how risk factors like diabetes cause people to lose memory and thinking ability or develop Alzheimer's disease.

We have psychiatrists who are studying the behavior of changes that sometimes occur with Alzheimer's disease. We have individuals studying biological markers as well as genetics. And, one particular interesting question we've tackled is "why do some people get Alzheimer's disease when they're quite young, in their 50's, while other's get Alzheimer's disease very late in their lifespan?"