UW ADRC Mission and center history




Dr. Thomas Grabowski, Professor in the Departments of Radiology and Neurology at the University of Washington, is the Director of the UW Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC).  He oversees a multi-disciplinary effort to further a precision medicine approach to Alzheimer disease. This work aims to better define key steps in the pathological process and thereby identify new therapeutic targets that will help people with different variants of this disease.

“A precision medicine approach to Alzheimer disease currently runs about a decade behind oncology,” says Dr. Grabowski, “but we hope that the ADRC’s thirty-year legacy in neurogenetics will speed the development of more personalized, effective treatments for patients.”

Dr. Grabowski is a leader in both the clinical and research efforts around neurodegenerative disease and dementia at the University of Washington. In his role as the Medical Director of the UW Memory and Brain Wellness Center and a neurologist, he leads a provider team that diagnoses, treats, and supports patients living with memory loss or dementia. He has made patient and family wellbeing into a top priority in the clinic, by helping people adjust to cognitive challenges over time and leveraging intact personal strengths.

He also conducts research as the Director of the UW Integrated Brain Imaging Center, where his group uses functional and structural brain imaging methods to understand how brain systems supporting memory and language are affected by neurodegenerative diseases. In particular, he aims to improve the potential of functional brain imaging to diagnose and monitor early Alzheimer, Parkinson, and frontotemporal spectrum diseases.

Read about these wide-ranging clinical, research, and community outreach efforts on the website of the UW Memory and Brain Wellness Center, which represents the Memory and Brain Wellness Clinic, the ADRC, and the Northwest Pacific Udall Center.



The UW ADRC has been committed to helping advance Alzheimer’s research for thirty years. We believe that through hard work, innovation, the generous support of our donors and volunteers, and a concentrated research effort, we can develop more effective approaches to treating and ultimately preventing Alzheimer’s. We hope that you will join with us in answering the questions of this disease through innovative and productive research.

At our center, we specifically focus on a precision medicine approach to Alzheimer’s disease. This means that we seek to advance research in genetic risk, develop neuroimaging markers and biomarkers for preclinical detection, and discover novel therapeutics that can be tailored to address the underlying molecular causes of an individual’s disease. Our basic science and clinical studies strive toward precision medicine strategies that improve the care, functioning, and quality of life of both patients and caregivers.

Read more about precision medicine in our Fall 2015 issue of Dimensions here.



The UW ADRC was established in 1985 as one of ten Alzheimer’s Disease Centers that were originally funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) to study Alzheimer's. Since then, the UW ADRC has fostered a research culture that helps investigators attain new knowledge about Alzheimer’s and related dementias and then helps them apply this knowledge to the development of innovative therapies. One way that we have been able to work toward innovative therapies is by gathering a multidisciplinary group of basic and clinical investigators, including neurologists, psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, cell and molecular neurobiologists, neuropathologists, geneticists, biostatisticians, geriatricians, and others. These ADRC researchers work with fellows, volunteer research participants, community partners, and scientific collaborators locally, nationally, and internationally. Our investigators also partner with other Alzheimer’s centers across the country to evaluate promising new medications and other treatments for Alzheimer’s. Through these endeavors, the UW ADRC continues its education and training mission to develop the careers of new Alzheimer’s investigators and, as we first articulated in 1985, to enhance the education of professionals and the public on the nature of Alzheimer’s disease.

Read about the current happenings in the UW ADRC in the Winter 2017 edition of Dimensions here.