Research & Publications
Christopher H. van Dyck, MD, is Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Neuroscience; Director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Unit; Director, Yale Alzheimer's Disease Research Center; Director, Division of Aging and Geriatric Psychiatry.
His research focuses on neuroimaging and therapeutic studies of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and brain aging. His current imaging research utilizes positron emission tomography (PET) to study the beta-amyloid (Aβ) and tau proteins, as well as the synaptic targets SV2A and mGluR5. He and his team are examining the full spectrum of AD, including AD-dementia, the prodromal condition of amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment (aMCI), and preclinical AD—in individuals at high familial and genetic risk.
He also has extensive experience in the conduct and leadership of therapeutic trials in AD. Since 1991 he has led or participated in approximately 90 clinical trials for AD, including the prodromal or preclinical stages. He currently serves on the Steering and Executive Committees and Co-Chairs the Protocol Evaluation Committee of the Alzheimer’s Clinical Trials Consortium (ACTC). He also serves on the Steering Committees of the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS), the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), and the Alzheimer's Therapeutic Research Institute (ATRI). His research accomplishments have been recognized by receipt of the 1996 Junior Investigator Award of the American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry, the 2005 Compassion and Cure Award of the Alzheimer’s Association, and the 2017 Leader in Advancing Research Award of the Alzheimer’s Association. He has published more than 200 peer-reviewed papers, more than 100 of which pertain to Alzheimer's disease.
Specialized Terms: Alzheimer's disease; Brain aging; Cognitive aging; Pharmacotherapy; Neuroimaging; Genetics
Extensive Research Description
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)
Aging; Alzheimer Disease; Drug Therapy; Genetics; Neurobiology; Neurology; Psychiatry; Positron-Emission Tomography; Neuroimaging