URI neuroscientist is part of $8M grant for U.S. and European consortium on brain clearance research

KINGSTON, R.I. – June 27, 2023 — William Van Nostrand, co-executive director of the George & Anne Ryan Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rhode Island, is part of a team awarded a five-year, $8 million grant from the prestigious Leducq Foundation that will establish a transatlantic consortium on the study of the brain’s waste-clearing system as a contributor to cerebral amyloid angiopathy. The disorder causes brain bleeds and commonly occurs with Alzheimer’s disease.

“I am grateful to the Leducq Foundation for their valuable investment in this work,” said Van Nostrand. “I believe this collaboration will lead to important breakthroughs in understanding brain clearance and reveal key insights as to why cerebral amyloid angiopathy and other dementias occur, and how we can treat and prevent them.”

Increasing evidence suggests that a deficiency in brain clearance—the process by which the brain flushes out toxins and harmful waste—plays an important role in the disorder, yet there are fundamental unknowns as to how this process occurs. With the rising aging population, cerebral amyloid angiopathy is increasing, but effective disease-modifying interventions are nonexistent. Understanding the role of clearance will have major implications for understanding it and other dementia disorders.

The consortium will work with innovative transgenic and gene-edited rodent models developed by Van Nostrand, who has studied cerebral amyloid angiopathy for nearly 30 years and recently co-authored key findings on the role of brain clearance in the disorder  with investigators at Yale University.

The consortium is expected to officially start work Jan. 1, 2024, and includes investigators from research sites across the U.S. and Europe. In addition to Van Nostrand, U.S. investigators are Helene Benveniste (Yale University), Jeffrey Iliff and Andy Shih (University of Washington), and Susanne Van Veluw and Steven Greenberg (Massachusetts General Hospital). European investigators are Erik Bakker (Amsterdam University Medical Center, the Netherlands), Roxana Carare (University of Southampton, U.K.), Sylvie Lorthois (Institut de Mécanique des Fluides de Toulouse, France), Gabor Petzold (German Center for Neurodegenerative Disease), and Matthias Van Osch (Leiden University Medical Center, the Netherlands). The network will be led by North American coordinator Susanne Van Veluw and European coordinator Matthias Van Osch.

The overarching consortium aims are to establish a data-driven, integrated multi-scale understanding of perivascular brain clearance in health and cerebral amyloid angiopathy, translate experimental findings from rodent models to the human brain, and identify relevant driving forces to be tested in future clinical trials to enhance brain clearance.

Van Nostrand joined URI in 2017. He is Herrmann Professor of Neuroscience and a professor of biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences in URI’s College of Pharmacy.

The prestigious Leducq Foundation is an international grant-making organization with a mission to improve human health through international efforts to combat cardiovascular disease and stroke. By forging scientific alliances that transcend national borders, it promotes long-term collaborative relationships to foster innovations in cardiovascular and stroke research and change the way that patients with cardiovascular and neurovascular disease are diagnosed and treated. For more information, please visit https://www.fondationleducq.org/