On Oct. 18 2012, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund (CAF) announced a gift of $5.4 million to Mass General to lead an unprecedented Alzheimer’s research project to explore the genetic factors that affect the brain and increase the risk of disease.

This requires whole genome DNA sequencing, which allows researchers to see all of the individual’s hereditary information.

Rudolph E. Tanzi, PhD, director of Mass General’s Genetics and Aging Unit, will lead the project. Researchers will gather genome sequences from more than 1,500 individuals in families affected by Alzheimer’s. Genetic information of those with the disease will be compared with unaffected family members, helping to pinpoint specific sites on the genome that influence a person’s risk. Through this project, Dr. Tanzi hopes to significantly advance understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and create a roadmap toward finding a cure.

“The CAF–MGH partnership is uniquely powerful because it combines the largest known number of family-based Alzheimer’s samples at Mass General and the skill of the Tanzi lab with unfettered funding from Cure Alzheimer’s Fund,” explains Jeffrey L. Morby, chairman and cofounder of CAF. “The result will be a fast, accurate genetic analysis never before done.”