Robert Vassar, Ph.D.

Director, Northwestern Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease; Scientific Director of Behavioral Neurology, Davee Department of Neurology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University

Dr. Robert Vassar’s ongoing research focuses on the role of amyloid beta and BACE1 in normal biological processes and in disease mechanisms of relevance to AD. His lab is particularly interested in the functions of BACE1 and the homologue BACE2 and the cell biology of Aβ in neurons. Cellular and molecular studies of BACE1 and BACE2 knockout mice will be important for elucidating the biological functions of these novel aspartic proteases and identifying their substrates. Finally, the lab is interested in the role of inflammation in AD pathophysiology, novel transgenic and knockout mouse models of AD, and molecular changes that may occur during brain aging leading to neurodegeneration.

To learn more, visit the Vassar Lab website.

Funded Research

These projects were made possible from Cure Alzheimer's Fund support.

Selected Publications

These published papers resulted from Cure Alzheimer’s Fund support.

Yan, R., & Vassar, R. Targeting the beta secretase BACE1 for Alzheimer’s disease therapy, Lancet Neurology, February 17, 2014, Read More

Yan, R., Fan, Q., Zhou, J., & Vassar, R. Inhibiting BACE1 to reverse synaptic dysfunctions in Alzheimer’s disease, Neuroscience & Behavioral Reviews, April 1, 2016, Read More

Vassar, R., Kuhn, P. H., Haass, C., Kennedy, M. E., Rajendran, L., Wong, P. C., & Lichtenthaler, S. F. Function, therapeutic potential and cell biology of BACE proteases: current status and future prospects, Journal of Neurochemistry, April 19, 2014, Read More

Sadleir, K. R., Kandalepas, P. C., Buggia-Prévot, V., Nicholson, D. A., Thinakaran, G., & Vassar, R. Presynaptic dystrophic neurites surrounding amyloid plaques are sites of microtubule disruption, BACE1 elevation, and increased amyloid beta generation in Alzheimer’s disease, Acta Neuropathologica, March 18, 2016, Read More

Buggia-Prévot, V., Fernandez, C. G., Riordan, S., Vetrivel, K. S., Roseman, J., Waters, J., Bindokas, V. P., Vassar, R., & Thinakaran, G. Axonal BACE1 dynamics and targeting in hippocampal neurons: a role for Rab11 GTPase, Molecular Neurodegeneration, January 4, 2014, Read More

Buggia-Prévot, V., Fernandez, C. G., Udayar, V., Vetrivel, K. S., Elie, A., Roseman, J., Sasse, V. A., Lefkow, M., Meckler, X., Bhattacharyya, S., George, M., Kar, S., Bindokas, V. P., Parent, A. T., Rajendran, L., Band, H., Vassar, R., & Thinakaran, G. A function for EHD family proteins in unidirectional retrograde dendritic transprt of BACE1 and Alzheimer’s disease Ab production, Cell Reports, December 26, 2013, Read More

Upadhyay, A., Chhangani, D., Rao, N. R., Kofler, J., Vassar, R., Rincon-Limas, D. E., & Savas, J. N. Amyloid fibril proteomics of AD brains reveals modifiers of aggregation and toxicity, Molecular Neurodegeneration, September 14, 2023, Read More

Alia, A. O., Jeon, S., Popovic, J., Salvo, M. A., Sadleir, K. R., Vassar, R., & Cuddy, L. K. Aberrant glial activation and synaptic defects in CaMKIIα-iCre and nestin-Cre transgenic mouse models, Scientific Reports, December 21, 2022, Read More

Hur, J. Y., Frost, G. R., Wu, X., Crump, C., Pan, S. J., Wong, E., … Vassar, R., … Greengard, P., ... Li, Y. M. The innate immunity protein IFITM3 modulates γ-secretase in Alzheimer’s disease, Nature, September 2, 2020, Read More

McDade, E., Voytyuk, I., Aisen, P., Bateman, R. J., Carrillo, M. C., De Strooper, B., Haass, C., Reiman, E. M., Sperling, R., Tariot, P. N., Yan, R., Masters, C. L., Vassar, R., & Lichtenthaler, S. F. The case for low-level BACE1 inhibition for the prevention of Alzheimer disease, Nature Reviews Neurology, September 21, 2021, Read More

Cuddy, L. K., Prokopenko, D., Cunningham, E. P., Brimberry, R., Song, P., Kirchner, R., Chapman, B. A., Hofmann, O., Hide, W., Procissi, D., Hanania, T., Leiser, S. C., Tanzi, R. E., & Vassar, R. Abeta-accelerated neurodegeneration caused by Alzheimer’s-associated ACE variant R1279Q is rescued by angiotensin system inhibition in mice, Science Translational Medicine, September 30, 2020, Read More