Atlanta – Emory University is expanding its drive to understand the complexities of brain health by establishing the Brain Health Personalized Medicine Institute (BHPMI). Housing a vibrant research program to collect, integrate and analyze large, high quality data sets, the BHPMI will inform understanding of the biological, medical and lifestyle factors impacting brain health and disease.
Led by Allan Levey, MD, PhD, the institute will include membership comprised of faculty throughout Emory University and the Emory Brain Health Center who share an interest in improving brain health patient outcomes through personalized medicine and data science. Levey will transition from his current role as chair of the School of Medicine Department of Neurology to serve as director of the BHPMI and report to Jonathan S. Lewin, MD, executive vice president for health affairs and Emory Healthcare CEO. Jaffar Khan, MD, professor of neurology, will serve as interim chair of the Department of Neurology. Khan also is the School of Medicine’s assistant dean for medical education and vice chair for education for the Department of Neurology.
Levey, a visionary leader who is internationally recognized for his work in neurodegenerative disease, has served as neurology department chair for the past 18 years. He is The Goizueta Foundation Endowed Chair for Alzheimer’s Disease Research, Betty Gage Holland Professor and Chair, and director of the Goizueta Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. Levey has also played a pivotal role in the growth and success of the Emory Brain Health Center, partnering with leadership from Neurosurgery, Psychiatry, Rehabilitation Medicine and the Emory Sleep Center.
Through the BHPMI, Emory will combine existing strengths in clinical and research neuroscience programs by integrating data obtained from Emory Healthcare with cutting-edge research capabilities in the Georgia community. From molecular detail to gene, cell and neural circuity, Emory’s new institute will seek to clarify the complexity of behavior and disease through large-scale data collection and analysis.
“Very few academic medical centers are as rich as Emory in the number of neuroscientists and healthcare providers in brain health,” says Lewin. “The rich academic culture extends to partnering institutions at Georgia Tech, the Atlanta VA Medical Center and Georgia State University, establishing Atlanta as one of few cities globally with such a strong neuroscience research and care community.”
Researchers have learned that across the spectrum of brain diseases, there are more commonalities than differences. Dementia, depression, ALS, autism, stroke and other brain diseases have been treated as unrelated conditions. However, data from the integrated research taking place at Emory’s Brain Health Center indicates that all these diseases are more related than previously believed, and data science can help complete the puzzle.
“One of our goals with the BHPMI is to accumulate data from a wide subset of those with brain disease and profile these individuals,” says Levey. “This data will help inform our understanding of the biological, medical and lifestyle factors impacting brain health and disease and promote new research approaches to improve patient care and ultimately prevent common brain diseases.”