Christopher H Van Dyck, MD

Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Neurobiology; Director, Alzheimer's Disease Research Unit

Research Organizations

Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program

Psychiatry: Aging & Geriatric Psychiatry, Division of | Alzheimer's Disease Research Unit

Research Summary

Dr Christopher H. van Dyck is a graduate of Yale College and Northwestern University Medical School. He completed his residency in psychiatry, fellowship in geriatric psychiatry, and research fellowship in neuroimaging at Yale University School of Medicine. He subsequently joined the faculty at Yale where he is Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Neurobiology, Director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Unit, and Director of the Division of Aging and Geriatric Psychiatry.

Dr. van Dyck is a recognized leader in the neuroimaging of Alzheimer’s disease and healthy aging. His research interests also include the pharmacologic treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment, and he serves as Steering Committee member and Yale site Principal Investigator for the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study (National Institute of Aging). He is also Principal Investigator on grants from the National Institutes of Health and a number of private foundations, including the Alzheimer’s Association.

He received the prestigious Junior Investigator Award from the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry (1996) and serves on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Brain Imaging and Behavior. He has participated in several invited presentations at national and international meetings and has authored over 100 papers, abstracts, and reviews. Finally, Dr. van Dyck is extremely committed to advancing the cause of Alzheimer’s patients and their families on the local and national level. As Chairman of the Medical Scientific Advisory Committee for the Connecticut Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, he is intimately involved with local program development, advocacy, and education.

Extensive Research Description

Christopher H. van Dyck, MD, is Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Neurobiology, and Director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Unit at Yale School of Medicine. His research interests include therapeutic, neuroimaging and genetic studies of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and healthy aging. Dr. van Dyck and the Yale ADRU are very active in national and international research in the treatment of AD.

Since 1992 he has participated in 80+ multicenter clinical trials for AD and the prodromal condition of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and has authored several of the trial publications. Since 1996 he has been a member of the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS), the principal academic consortium for AD therapeutic studies funded by NIH. Dr. van Dyck’s other significant scholarly contributions have included:

Dopamine Transporter (DAT) Imaging in Aging.
He has used SPECT imaging to demonstrate a 50% loss of DATs over the lifespan and has further shown that this loss of dopamine is associated with the slowing of reaction time that is characteristic of the normal aging process.

The Apolipoprotein E e4 (ApoE e4) Phenotype of AD.
He has combined genetics and neuroimaging to characterize the role of the most common genetic risk factor, ApoE e4, in structural and cognitive changes in AD. He has found that patients who carry the ApoE e4 allele are at greater risk for psychosis and for loss of medial temporal lobe tissue. He is now using the PET ligand [11C]PIB to assess amyloid plaques in asymptomatic first-degree relatives as a function of ApoE e4 genotype.

  • Guanfacine Treatment for Prefrontal Cognitive Dysfunction in Elderly Subjects (funded by NIA). The major goal of this project is to test the hypothesis that low doses of the alpha-2A-adrenoceptor agonist guanfacine can improve deficits in prefrontally-mediated working memory and executive control functions in healthy elderly subjects.
  • Amyloid Binding In Subjects At Risk For Alzheimer’s Disease (funded by Alzheimer's Association). The major goal of this project is to test the hypothesis that in vivo brain Aß burden as measured using [11C]PIB and PET is increased in healthy subjects with a family history of AD who are homozygous or heterozygous for the ApoE e4 allele compared to subjects who lack this allele.
  • Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study Unit (ADCS, funded by NIA). The major goal of this multicenter consortium is to conduct clinical trial research in Alzheimer’s disease that would not otherwise be conducted by private pharmaceutical corporations. Role: Principal Investigator for Yale Site (PI: Paul Aisen, University of California, San Diego)
  • Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI, funded by NIA) The major goals of this project are to: 1. Develop improved methods which will lead to uniform standards for acquiring longitudinal, multi-site MRI and PET data on patients with Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, and elderly controls. 2. Acquire a generally accessible data repository, which describes longitudinal changes in brain structure and metabolism. In parallel, acquire clinical cognitive and biomarker data for validation of imaging surrogates. Role: Principal Investigator for Yale Site (PI: University of California, San Francisco)

Selected Publications

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Contact Info

Christopher H Van Dyck, MD
Patient Care Locations
Yale Alzheimer's Disease Research Unit1 Church Street, Ste Suite 600
New Haven, CT 06510
874 Howard Avenue
New Haven, CT 06519
Mailing Address
Yale University School of Medicine
One Church Street

New Haven, CT 06510

Alzheimer's Disease Research Unit

Research Image 2

Frequency of psychosis by ApoE e4 carrier status and dementia severity. Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) score was used to classify AD patients as mild (MMSE>19, n=103), moderate (MMSE=12-19, n=121), or severe (MMSE<12, n=42). Separate multiple logistic regression analyses were performed for each severity category, with presence of psychosis as dependent variable and the following independent variables (in addition to e4 carrier status): age, sex, educational attainment, and MMSE. *Only at the severe stage was the presence of e4 significantly associated with psychosis (odds ratio [OR]=16.61, 95% CI=2.11-130.51, P=.008). (From Zdanys KF , et al. 2007.)