Welcome to the USF Health
Byrd Alzheimer’s Center and Research Institute

The USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Center and Research Institute is dedicated to the prevention, treatment and cure of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.

The institute is a multi-disciplinary center of excellence at the University of South Florida that provides compassionate family-centered patient care, performs cutting edge research and delivers quality public and professional education. With a state-of-the-art building and a highly qualified team of researchers, doctors, clinicians and educators, the institute is at the forefront of Alzheimer's research and care.

 The Byrd Institute announces the award of a $950,000 Veterans Affairs (VA) grant to Laura Blair, PhD an Assistant Professor of Molecular Medicine and a Byrd NSI Investigator. While the incidence of physical wounds has dropped in veterans, many soldiers are returning from deployment suffering from psychological wounds that manifest as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder (MDD). The major goal of this 4-year study is to develop strategies to deplete the stress-associated protein FKBP51 while deepening the understanding of FKBP51 biology, with the long-range goal of enhancing the psychological resiliency of soldiers and veterans. Such efforts are also expected to help the general population suffering from stress-related neurological disorders that impair cognitive brain function. 
Byrd Institute welcomes Dr. Gopal Thinakaran, PhD, an internationally recognized Alzheimer’s disease researcher from the department of Neurobiology at the University of Chicago. Supported by $5.5 million in National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant funding, his research focuses on cutting-edge molecular and cellular processes underlying Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. At USF Health, Dr. Thinakaran will assume leadership roles as associate dean for neuroscience research, NSI associate director of research, and Bagnor Endowed Chair in Alzheimer’s Research. He will also serve as Professor of Molecular Medicine and Byrd Institute. 
We are excited to welcome Dr. Angele Parent, PhD, from the University of Chicago. She studies how the brain remembers and what goes wrong with memory storage mechanisms in neurodegenerative diseases, focusing on communication between nerve cells (synaptic transmission) and neuronal plasticity. She recently received a 5-year $1.75 million NIH grant to examine how changes in APP metabolism affect memory in sleep-disturbed Alzheimer’s models. Dr. Parent will serve as Associate Professor of Molecular Medicine and Byrd Institute.
The Byrd Institute announces the award of a $1.8 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to Jung A (Alexa) Woo, PhD, an Assistant Professor of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology and a Byrd Investigator. Dr. Woo’s grant focuses on beta-arrestins, which are proteins classically known to bind and modify the function of cell surface receptors called GPCRs. Over the next five years, this grant will allow her to investigate how beta-arrestins alter the tau tangle protein to mitigate the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), possibly leading to new AD therapies.
The April 2019 issue of the eNeuro Journal an official online scientific journal for the Society for Neuroscience, has featured an interview with Dr. Laura Blair, a Byrd investigator. In the interview, Dr. Blair talks about her recent publication in eNeuro describing the cellular and behavioral deficits in a transgenic mouse model in which the FKBP5 gene is overexpressed. Increased FKBP5 has been associated with several psychiatric disorders.  The interview goes on to describe her research philosophy and the focus of her laboratory. Full detailed transcript of the interview and paper can be found here.
Dr. Lianchun Wang  recently joined the Byrd Institute as a Professor of Molecular Pharmacology & Physiology. His research focuses on heparan sulfate (HS), a linear sugar present at the surface of cells and extracellular matrix. He has worked to understand the functions and related structures of HS in inflammation, blood vessel development, cancer, and stem cell biology. Dr. Wang’s research also extends to Alzheimer’s, with a focus on the aberrant expression of HS as a potential biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of the disease. This NIH-funded research examines the role of HS in the regulation of amyloid beta metabolism and neuroinflammation attributing to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Krishna Bhat

Dr. Krishna Bhat launches NIH-funded research program

We are excited to announce a $1.5 million research grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded to Krishna Bhat, MD, PhD, Professor of Molecular Medicine and Byrd Institute Investigator. This grant will allow him to conduct research on genes and proteins that regulate the division of neuronal stem cells. His findings could reveal how the brain is formed during development and provide key insights to new therapies that induce the generation of new brain cells in the adult brain. This could help treat many degenerative conditions of the brain, including Alzheimer’s. 

Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute


On behalf of the University of South Florida’s Morsani College of Medicine and the USF Health Neuroscience Institute, welcome to the Byrd Alzheimer’s Center and Research Institute website. Throughout these pages, we hope that you will find inspiration, direction and hope from the work that our team is doing in our laboratories, through our clinical trials programs and with our community educational services.


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Byrd Institute in the News 

Byrd Institute study suggests cell phone waves could combat the effects of Alzheimer's

Dr Alexa Woo's research targets B-arrestins with the aim of arresting Alzheimer's disease

Dr Amanda Smith's News Radio WFLA interview on Alzheimer's Diagnosis and Treatment

Dr Amanda Smith's News Radio WFLA interview on Alzheimer's Clinical Trials

David Kang probes brain changes in aging that tip the balance toward dementia

Next steps to accelerate our Alzheimer’s disease research, neuroscience efforts

Early life stress plus overexpressed FKBP5 protein increases anxiety behavior

Byrd Alzheimer’s Center: Basic research objectives and faculty recruitment strategy

Cofilin may be early culprit in tauopathy process leading to brain cell death

Leading Alzheimer’s researchers to join USF Health Neuroscience Institute

Jerri Edwards ranks #8 among NIH-funded researchers in Psychiatry

Byrd Institute's medical experts and resources help couple navigate Alzheimer's Journey

Supporting our Caregivers

USF researchers must overcome challenges for clinical trials success

Upcoming Caregiver Workshops at the Byrd Institute

Alzheimer’s Disease: What Caregivers Need to Know
Friday, October 11, 2019

Helping New Family Caregivers Navigate the Alzheimer’s Journey
Friday, December 6, 2019

Helping Family Caregivers Improve Communication and Manage Behaviors
Friday, January 31, 2020

For more information, click here .