Georgetown University Medical Center Selected as Lewy Body Dementia Research Center of Excellence

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Karen Teber

WASHINGTON (April 4, 2018) — The Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA) has designated Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) as a “Research Center of Excellence.”

Announced this week, the LBDA Research Center of Excellence (RCOE) program “aims to establish a clinical trials-ready network of leading institutions who share the common vision of providing the highest level of clinical care over the course of LBD treatment.”

“We welcome the LBDA’s selection of Georgetown University Medical Center as a Research Center of Excellence,” says Edward B. Healton, MD, MPH, executive vice president for health sciences at GUMC and executive dean of its School of Medicine. “The strength of our research and clinical care in neurological diseases, including Lewy body dementia, comes from a dedicated team of collaborative scientists and clinicians working in tandem to find new treatments for this and other debilitating neurologic diseases.”

The RCOE at Georgetown encompasses the Translational Neurotherapeutics Program (TNP). The TNP establishes efficient pathways for investigating potential medicines that can improve, halt or restore function in neurodegenerative disorders from the bench to the bedside. The TNP optimizes collaborations among basic and preclinical scientists, and neurodegenerative disease specialists at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, the university’s clinical partner committed to clinically focused translational research in addition to care and education.

“Clinical trials with a patient population like LBD’s, requires experienced diagnosticians to insure accurate patient participation,” said Mike Koehler, chief executive officer of LBDA. “This network can share a standardized approach to patient recruitment and data collection for clinical trials.”

Lewy body dementia is a progressive brain disorder in which Lewy bodies (abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein) build up in areas of the brain that regulate behavior, cognition and movement. It is estimated to affect 1.4 million people in the U.S., but is often not correctly diagnosed because of its similarity to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

“Advances in treatment for Lewy body dementia require a commitment to both academic excellence and the engagement of experts and specialists in movement disorders and neuropsychologists like those here who can properly diagnose this disease,” explains MedStar Georgetown University Hospital President Michael Sachtleben. “It is only through this combination of highly skilled scientists and world-class clinicians such as these, that we’ll be able to alleviate the suffering and bring about new treatments for this disease.”

Georgetown is one of 24 RCOEs selected to launch the new network, led by the Mayo Clinic. The centers were chosen for their clinical expertise in LBD, experience running clinical trials in related conditions, their facility’s capacity and willingness to participate, and their geographic locations. Each RCOE is led by recognized leading primary investigators (PIs) and co-investigators to conduct trials and provide expert care.

The primary investigators for Georgetown’s RCOE are:

  • Charbel Moussa, MBBS, PhD, associate professor of neurology at Georgetown and director of Georgetown University Medical Center’s Laboratory of Dementia and Parkinsonism
  • Fernando Pagan, MD, vice chairman and associate professor at Georgetown, and director of the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital Movement Disorders Clinic
  • Yasar Torres Yaghi, MD, co-director of the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital’s Lewy Body Dementia Clinic

About Georgetown University Medical Center (new window)
Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health). GUMC’s mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis — or “care of the whole person.” The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing & Health Studies, both nationally ranked; Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute; and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization, which accounts for the majority of externally funded research at GUMC including a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health. Connect with GUMC on Facebook (new window) ( (new window)), Twitter (new window) (@gumedcenter (new window)) and Instagram (new window) (@gumedcenter (new window)).

About Lewy Body Dementia Association (new window)
The Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA) is the nation’s leading voluntary health organization in raising awareness of Lewy body dementias (LBD), supporting patients, their families and caregivers, and promoting scientific advances. LBD is a progressive brain disease that affects thinking, movement, behavior, and impacts 1.4 million people in the United States. Visit (new window).

Karen Teber