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UConn names new neuroscience dept. chair; sets up lab for treatment studies

BY John Stearns

12/6/2017
Submitted photo
Submitted photo
Dr. Riqiang Yan
An internationally recognized neurodegenerative disease researcher from the Cleveland Clinic will become chair of the UConn School of Medicine's Department of Neuroscience in spring 2018 and establish the school's first research laboratory to study potential new treatments for Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Dr. Riqiang Yan specializes in identifying the biological causes of Alzheimer's disease and has five studies funded by the National institutes of Health, according to UConn Health.

His studies build on his co-discovery of the BACE-1 protein, which fuels production of plaque buildup (β-amyloid peptides) in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients. Studies suggest the plaque leads to cognitive decline in patients with Alzheimer's, UConn Health said.

"We all have a hope that in five to 10 years with academia collaborating with pharmaceutical companies we will indeed have an effective drug to finally treat Alzheimer's disease," Yan said.

Yan and his lab are currently testing in mouse models the power and safety of several promising molecules to target BACE-1 to prevent or stop further β-amyloid growth.

Yan and his team also are learning more about the role a particular protein plays in leading to memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer's in the elderly. The Yan lab is also exploring treatment that aims to replenish the loss of brain cells in Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases.