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Alzheimer's Disease and Tau: Pathogenic Mechanisms and Therapeutic Approaches

Alzheimer's Disease and Tau
Reported by
Caitlin McOmish

Posted February 02, 2016


Microtubule-associated protein tau helps maintain the stability and flexibility of microtubules in neuronal axons. Alternative splicing of the tau gene, MAPT, produces 6 isoforms of tau in the brain and many more in the peripheral nervous system. Tau can be phosphorylated at over 30 sites, and it undergoes many posttranslational modifications to operate as a substrate for multiple enzymes. However, tau also mediates pathological functions including neuroinflammatory response, seizure, and amyloid-β (Aβ) toxicity, and tau pathology is a hallmark of conditions including frontotemporal dementia, traumatic brain injury (TBI), Down syndrome, focal cortical dysplasia, and Alzheimer's disease (AD), as well as some tumors and infections. On September 18, 2015, speakers at the Brain Dysfunction Discussion Group's Alzheimer's Disease and Tau: Pathogenic Mechanisms and Therapeutic Approaches symposium discussed the mechanisms by which tau becomes pathological and how the pathology spreads. They also described emerging therapeutic strategies for AD focused on tau.

How to cite this eBriefing

The New York Academy of Sciences. Alzheimer's Disease and Tau: Pathogenic Mechanisms and Therapeutic Approaches. Academy eBriefings. 2016. Available at:

Journal Articles

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National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health. Alzheimer's Disease: Unraveling the Mystery. Online Publication; 2011.


Robert Martone

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Robert Martone conducts biomarker research and development with a focus on neuro-oncology in the Department of Pathology at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. He was previously the neuroscience therapeutic area lead for the Covance Biomarker Center of Excellence. He has expertise in both small-molecule and protein therapeutics and extensive experience in the pharmaceutical industry, leading neuroscience drug discovery and technology teams from target identification through clinical trials. He also has several years of academic research experience in molecular neurobiology, with a focus on the molecular genetics of familial neuropathies and CNS tumor biomarker development.

Sonya Dougal, PhD

The New York Academy of Sciences

Sonya Dougal is the director of Life Sciences Discussion Groups at the New York Academy of Sciences. She develops an annual portfolio of scientific symposia on life sciences and biomedical research. Dougal has over 14 years of experience in scientific research and program management in academia, industry, and nonprofits. She holds a PhD in cognitive psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. She was the recipient of a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health for her postdoctoral training as a cognitive neuroscientist in the laboratory of Elizabeth Phelps at New York University.


George S. Bloom, PhD

University of Virginia
website | publications

Peter Davies, PhD

Feinstein Institute for Medical Research
website | publications

Marc I. Diamond, MD

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
website | publications

Michael Hutton, PhD

Eli Lilly and Company

Khalid Iqbal, PhD

New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities
website | publications

Hartmuth C. Kolb, PhD

Johnson & Johnson, Janssen R&D

Nicole Leclerc, PhD

Université de Montréal, Canada
website | publications

Kun Ping Lu, MD, PhD

Harvard Medical School
website | publications

Richard M. Ransohoff, MD

website | publications

Short Talk Presenters

Magdalena J. Kiprowska, MS

Hunter College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Natura Myeku, PhD

Taub Institute for Alzheimer's Disease Research, Columbia University

Caitlin McOmish, PhD

Caitlin McOmish is a program manager at the New York Academy of Sciences.


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Grant Support

This program is supported in part by an educational grant from Merck and Co. Inc.

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  • Acorda Therapeutics