About the Alzheimer’s Therapeutic Research Institute

USC ATRI extends far beyond the workers in one building on one campus.

The mission of the Alzheimer’s Therapeutic Research Institute’s (ATRI) is to rigorously test methods for early detection of and treatments for Alzheimer’s disease (AD).  Led by Paul Aisen, MD,  ATRI is comprised by a  growing set of teams of highly skilled researchers  with expertise in biostatistics, psychology, informatics, bench science, molecular neuroimaging, neuroscience and more.

ATRI is an integral part of the San Diego and USC communities, yet oversees and manages clinical trials and studies at major academic medical centers throughout the US and internationally.

As an academic institute, ATRI not only focuses on research; it offers educational programs for learners at multiple levels. Dr. Aisen firmly believes that treatments for halting the progression of AD are on the horizon and his goal of primary prevention of AD is attainable

ATRI plays a leading role in the Alzheimer’s Therapeutic Clinical Trials Consortium (ACTC) dedicated to the acceleration of therapeutic interventions for AD.


USC ATRI was established at the Keck School of Medicine of USC in 2015 to usher in a new era of scientific discovery for AD.  The field of Alzheimer’s therapeutics is widely recognized to have begun in San Diego under the direction of Leon Thal, MD, who established the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS) in 1991. The ADCS, supported by the NIH, became the leading academic consortium for evaluating experimental treatments for AD throughout the United States and Canada.   In 2003, at the behest of the NIH, Dr. Thal asked his colleague Paul Aisen MD, then at Georgetown University Medical School, to serve as his Associate Director of the national ADCS, and they worked hand in glove overseeing all of its functions.  Upon Dr. Thal’s tragic untimely death in an airplane accident in February 2007, Dr. Aisen immediately traveled to San Diego to maintain continuity in the leadership of the ADCS and fulfill the promise to the many people affected by Alzheimer’s, the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Aging (NIH/NIA) and the field of researchers to continue the work established by Dr. Thal.  From 2007 through 2015 the role and scope of the clinical trials program grew dramatically under Aisen’s leadership. New international academic centers joined the consortium and important public-private partnerships were forged, allowing collaborations never before realized for more rapidly advancing AD clinical research.

In 2017 the NIH designated 70 million dollars to fund a new clinical trials consortium to accelerate and expand studies for therapies in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias: the ACTC. The infrastructure developed and maintained with this funding allows participation of 35 clinical research sites across the United States  (the consortium) to more effectively address the timeframe, complexity and expense of the  clinical trials recruitment and activation process. and site activation for Alzheimer’s trials to find new and effective ways to treat or prevent these devastating disorders. ATRI with research teams from Harvard, and Mayo Clinic leads the ACTC.

ATRI teams have designed and provided leadership to the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, which is considered to be the NIH/NIA’s leading model for public domain research to facilitate the scientific evaluation of neuroimaging and other biomarkers for the onset and progression of MCI and Alzheimer’s disease.