Molecular Biology and Genetics, Banner Sun Health Research Institute
Head and Senior Scientist
Napolean Longtine Center For Molecular Biology and Genetics
Dr. Alex Roher’s research interests involve the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD). His investigations cover four fundamental areas: 1) The role of cardiovascular disease in the etiology and clinical evolution of AD with special emphasis on coronary, carotid, circle of Willis and leptomeningeal atherosclerotic lesions producing brain hypoperfusion and consequent dementia. The degree of arterial atherosclerosis is assessed by functional assays including transcranial Doppler ultrasonography, carotid duplex ultrasonography (including intima/media thickness ratio) and cardiac function appraised by echocardiography and ultrasound measurements of cerebral blood flow. In addition, functional assays of atherosclerotic pathology are combined with direct physical measurements and computer assisted analyses of postmortem vascular specimens from clinically assessed individuals with and without autopsy-confirmed AD. 2) Characterization of potential biomarkers for AD present in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), plasma as well as in peripheral lymphocyte populations from PD in antemortem and postmortem specimens. It is expected that biomarker identification of groups of specific proteins, detected by state of the art proteomic technologies, will facilitate the clinical diagnosis of AD and PD and aid assessment of future drug and treatment regime efficacy. 3) Characterization of amyloid precursor protein (APP) and amyloid beta peptides and their biochemical processing in APP and presenilin gene-expressing transgenic animal models of AD. The aim of this project is to elucidate the physicochemical differences in APP and amyloid beta that exist between humans and rodents, since these paradigms are widely used in the characterization of amyloid pathophysiology and in measuring AD therapeutic drug efficacy. 4) Investigation of white matter alterations involved in the pathogenesis of AD. These studies entail ultrastructural and biochemical changes, as detected in the immediate postmortem brain by electron microscopy and proteomic analysis that differentiate AD from non-demented individuals.
Phone: (623) 832-5465