History

For almost 20 years, the UCSF Memory and Aging Center (MAC) has been providing model care for patients and their families, finding innovative ways to understand and discover treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, and reaching out to the wider community to raise awareness about these diseases of aging.

The UCSF Memory and Aging Center has grown from a single faculty member in 1998 into a major center for dementia care, research and education. Today, the UCSF Memory and Aging Center employs over 250 talented faculty and staff and enlists the support of more than 40 volunteers. We house 38 faculty members from the fields of neurology, geriatrics, psychiatry, cognitive psychology, neuroscience and nursing, and we have cared for more than 10,000 patients in our clinical and research programs.

We are lucky to have found the UCSF Memory and Aging Center. The treatment and support we receive from them are truly amazing. They are kind, understanding and treat my husband as a human being, not just a research project. They also help the entire family learn and understand this illness and work with us very closely to answer any questions or concerns that constantly come up. They are always there to assist us.

Anonymous

UCSF family caregiver

1998

Bruce Miller, MD, is recruited to UCSF to establish a clinical dementia program within the Department of Neurology. Co-founders include Joel Kramer, PsyD; Kristine Yaffe, MD and Rosalie Gearhart, RN, MSN. Dr. Miller is awarded the A.W. & Mary Margaret Clausen Distinguished Professorship in Neurology.

1999

UCSF is named an Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center of California (ARCC) with Bruce Miller, MD, as principal investigator and director. The UCSF ARCC at the Memory and Aging Center goes on to establish strong linkages between existing clinical, research and basic science programs and community agencies. It is recognized as a source for outstanding diagnostic and treatment services to individuals with dementia and to their families. In 2009, the name ARCC changed to California Alzheimer’s Disease Center (CADC).

2002

Dr. Miller becomes the first NIH investigator to receive a program project grant to evaluate frontotemporal dementia (FTD).

The UCSF Memory and Aging Center receives a grant to establish the Hillblom Aging Network to learn more about how healthy people age and what changes in the brain occur with aging. Joel Kramer, PsyD, leads the research program.

2004

UCSF Memory and Aging Center is designated as a national Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) with the Memory and Aging Center as the central coordinating site. Funded by the NIH, this large collaborative program involves multiple collaborators. It is designed to integrate basic science and clinical resources in order to investigate the clinical, molecular, neuropathological and neuroimaging features of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), non-AD dementias and mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

2005

In 2005, the UCSF MAC led the first ever randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled treatment trial for patients with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease with a primary outcome of survival in the US. Our CJD clinical research team led by Michael Geschwind continues to work with Dr. Stanley Prusiner on other potential treatments.

2006

The MAC hosted FTD 2006: 5th International Conference on Frontotemporal Dementia, a three-day conference devoted to scientific sessions as well as caregivers, family members and interested laypersons. Topics included the molecular basis of FTD, animal models, behavioral manifestations, diagnostic testing and biomarker assessments including neuroimaging and genetics.

2007

The UCSF Memory and Aging Center ran the first randomized, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled treatment trial of memantine for patients with frontotemporal dementia.

2008

Bridging Cultures: Improving Evaluation and Treatment of Cognitive Disorders was organized by the MAC and held in San Francisco’s Chinatown. This one-day conference had a morning science track and afternoon caregiver track, which was presented in English with Chinese interpretation services provided to those who wanted it.

Rosalie Gearhart, RN, MSN, won the UCSF Chancellor’s Award for the Advancement of Women.

2009

The Hellman Family Foundation funded program a new program unique in its scope: the initiative provides support for two research scientists, a promising young research fellow, the director of the Memory and Aging Center Clinic and a visiting artist every year. This program is administered by Caroline Prioleau. The various artists have provided art installations, poetry collections, short films, caregiver story collection and live performances for our communities.

The Bluefield Project established the Consortium for Frontotemporal Dementia Research with the hope that the power of this funding, along with collaborative science by the best minds in the field, will lead to a cure for progranulin-based FTD.

The MAC clinical trials program, under the guidance of Adam Boxer, MD, PhD, implemented the first Phase 2 trials for tau-related therapies for frontotemporal dementia.

The MAC began collection of adult skin cells from affected families and healthy volunteers to create induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) that can build better disease models.

Led by Cindy Barton, RN, MSN, GNP, the Memory and Aging Center created a program using telemedicine to help provide specialty health care to people in rural areas.

Dr. Miller was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology.

2010

Dr. Miller received the prestigious Potamkin Prize from the American Academy of Neurology for research in Pick’s, Alzheimer’s and related diseases.

The Tau Consortium was created to accelerate the development of potential tau therapeutic options for tau-related disorders in patients with progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration and FTD-related tauopathies.

The Neuroimaging in Frontotemporal Dementia project to assess imaging techniques and lab tests as biomarkers for FTD began under the leadership of Howie Rosen, MD.

The center hosted a one-day conference in November 2010 of some of the leading experts in rapidly progressive dementia and subacute encephalopathies: Rapidly Progressive Dementia and Subacute Encephalopathies: Diagnosis and Management.

2011

Physician-scientist William Seeley, MD, becomes the first neurologist to receive a MacArthur ‟Genius” award.

The Center presents its first UCSF Osher Mini Medical School for the Public series entitled ‟The Aging Brain” to packed audiences.

The Memory and Aging Center building committee meets with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP to help design the new office and clinical research space at the UCSF Mission Bay campus.

The program project grant to evaluate frontotemporal dementia (FTD) started in 2002 is reviewed by the NIH and receives a perfect score with five more years of funding.

2012

The innovative Sandler Neuroscience Center is completed, and the Memory and Aging Center moves in, bringing all their basic and clinical research under one roof.

Dr. Bruce Miller is awarded the UCSF Academic Senate Distinction in Mentoring Award, the 12th Annual Academic Senate Faculty Research Lecture in Clinical Science and the Gene D. Cohen Research Award in Creativity and Aging.

The inaugural opening of Gallery190, located within the Memory and Aging Center first floor office suite, featured William Yokoyama and was a huge success. Leslie Goss, executive assistant to Dr. Miller, is the resident curator.

2013

Adam Boxer, MD, PhD, initiated the first clinical trial of a compound that could raise progranulin levels in people for whom a shortage of progranulin in their brain leads to frontotemporal dementia. This trial arose from a close collaboration between Li Gan, PhD, at the Gladstone Institutes and the UCSF Memory and Aging Center.

Zac Miller, MD, discovered a link between systemic inflammation due to autoimmune disease and forms of frontotemporal dementia that involve the protein TDP43. This finding opened up new avenues for diagnosis, prognosis and treatment.

William Seeley, MD, revealed that neurodegenerative diseases spread across brain networks in predictable patterns based on the neurons’ shared vulnerability to disease.

In collaboration with Yadong Huang, PhD, at the Gladstone Institutes, the UCSF Memory and Aging Center created the first cellular model of tauopathy from adult human stem cells with a rare mutation that increases susceptibility to Alzheimer’s disease, progressive supranuclear palsy and frontotemporal dementia. These models provide a unique way to study the mechanisms that break down in human disease.

2014

Funded by a Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services Health Care Innovation Award, the Dementia Care Ecosystem launched to provide proactive, continuous and personalized care to patients and caregivers. The Care Ecosystem has more than 600 enrollees and is designed to be scalable and transferable to patient groups and health care funding organizations across the country and is led by Katherine Possin, PhD.

To address the growing burden of dementia on health care systems, providers, patients and families, the UCSF Memory and Aging Center and Quest Diagnostics partnered to build the Dementia Care Pathway, a comprehensive, electronic decision support platform that integrates expert opinion and professional guidelines, provides robust tools to assist providers and supports best practices for dementia care. Multiple UCSF faculty and outside experts contribute with guidance from Kate Rankin, PhD.

The NIH funded two huge, multicenter studies, ARTFL (The Advancing Research and Treatment for Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration) and LEFFTDS (Longitudinal Evaluation of Familial Frontotemporal Dementia Subjects). These two studies are the largest NIH grants ever for frontotemporal dementia.

2015

Nurse Jennifer Merrilees, PhD, established the Memory and Aging Center Family Advisory Council to provide family caregiver input regarding clinical care at the MAC.

A large gift from The Atlantic Philanthropies launched the Global Brain Health Institute, which was created to mentor outstanding individuals who want to make a lasting impact on brain health both locally and globally. The Executive Director Dr. Victor Valcour works with a large team at University of California, San Francisco and Trinity College, Dublin. GBHI works to reduce the scale and impact of dementia around the world by training and supporting a new generation of leaders who will break down disciplinary boundaries to find innovative ways to intervene on behalf of vulnerable people in their communities.

2016

Bruce Miller, MD, is elected to the National Academy of Medicine, one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine.

Gil Rabinovici, MD, launched the Imaging Dementia — Evidence for Amyloid Scanning (IDEAS) study to assess the clinical usefulness and impact on patient-oriented outcomes of a brain positron emission tomography (PET) scan that detects amyloid plaques, a core feature of Alzheimer’s disease, in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia of uncertain cause. A total of 18,488 Medicare beneficiaries will be enrolled over 24 months at sites throughout the United States as part of a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Coverage with Evidence Development research program.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded MarkVCID, a consortium of US academic medical centers whose mission is to identify and validate biomarkers for the small vessel diseases of the brain that produce vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia (VCID). The five-year mission is to analyze and optimize candidate VCID biomarkers (years 1–2) and participate in a consortium-wide program of biomarker scaling-up, multi-site protocol implementation, and multi-site validation (years 3–5). Joel Kramer, PsyD, is leading the UC San Francisco site.

The Weill Family Foundation and Joan and Sanford I. “Sandy” Weill provided a generous gift to establish the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, in an ambitious effort to unite three UCSF departments – Neurology, Psychiatry and Neurological Surgery – to accelerate the development of new therapies for diseases affecting the brain and nervous system, including psychiatric disorders.

2017

The Memory and Aging Center and pre-eminent researchers in the Department of Psychiatry are working together to establish a state-of-the-art clinic to study, diagnose and treat individuals with dyslexia of all ages in a comprehensive manner in the Dyslexia Center (Deputy Director: Marilu Gorno Tempini, MD, PhD) where investigators study primary progressive aphasia, dyslexia and language development.