Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

Dr. Ronald Peterson explains Alzheimer's research at Mayo Clinic.

May 4, 2009 -- At the Mayo Clinic, we study the full spectrum of Alzheimer's disease. We do basic science research, clinical research and population-based research. At all three campuses we are engaged in trying to have a significant impact on the future of this disease process. From the basic science perspective, we're studying the genetic underpinnings of the disease; we're trying to develop new bio markers that will help us make the diagnosis at an earlier point in time. And we're also using animal models to test out new therapies.

From the clinical perspective we're trying to make the diagnosis at an earlier point in time, such that when therapies and treatments become available, we will be able to intervene at an earlier point in time and try to prevent damage from being done in the brain. We're also engaged in cutting-edge imaging research, so we're looking at scans that will look at the structure of the brain, the function of the brain, so that we will learn more about the underlying disease process and also help us to make a diagnosis at an earlier point in time.

From the treatment perspective, we're engaged in clinical trials of new therapies, cutting-edge technologies that may, in fact, be useful in the next generation of Alzheimer's disease patients. We then apply all of this research to the total population. We're doing what's called a population-based study, which is a random sample of individuals from an aging community, to try and see how these techniques and therapies will apply to the general population.

Finally, Mayo is very active in education, through the training of medical students, residents and fellows; we have these individuals engage in not only in clinical practice, but in the research of the underlying aspects of the disease, such that by training the next generation of physicians, we will be able to have a significant impact on future generations.