[Skip to Content]
Wei-Dong Yao

Upstate researcher awarded grant to study form of dementia

Wei-Dong Yao, a professor at Upstate Medical University, has been awarded $682,211 in federal funds to support research on a form of dementia.  The announcement was made today by U.S. Rep John Katko.

SUNY Upstate Medical University has a dedicated team of researchers working to advance treatments and cures for neurological disorders. The new funds SUNY Upstate received are available through the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a division of the National Institute of Health (NIH), and will allow SUNY Upstate to continue important research on neurological disorders.

“I’m proud to announce SUNY Upstate Medical University will be receiving over $600,000 in federal funding from the National Institute of Health (NIH) to support research on one of the leading forms of dementia,” said Katko. “Having witnessed my father develop and ultimately pass away from Alzheimer’s, I understand the physical, financial, and emotional burden dementia can have on those who suffer, their caretakers, and their families. In Congress I’ve consistently supported efforts to robustly fund the NIH, which provides critical federal funding to support the development of the next generation of treatment and cures. I’m glad this new funding will be used to help the dedicated neurology research team at SUNY Upstate continue their work to prevent, diagnose, and treat neurological disorders.”

The new funding for SUNY Upstate will specifically support research by Wei-Dong Yao, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and, Neuroscience and Physiology. Yao is researching frontotemporal dementia (FTD), the leading dementia most prevalent before age 65 and the most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease.

Yao’s study represents the first attempt to investigate the role of a new disease gene in FTD pathogenesis. The proposed studies are fundamentally important and highly significant because they have the potential to uncover novel pathogenic mechanisms and treatment strategies for FTD and related neurodegenerative diseases.

“I am grateful for the support of the NIH in funding this important study,” said Professor Yao. “I also want to thank U.S. Rep. Katko for continuing to push for additional federal funding into treatments for neurological disorders. This additional funding is important to continue important research into diseases of today.”

Yao is an Empire Scholar and joined Upstate from Harvard University in 2014 through the SUNY’s Empire Innovation Program.