William Van Nostrand and John Robinson join URI’s Ryan Institute for Neuroscience

Addition of Van Nostrand and Robinson boosts research muscle of URI and Ryan Institute

Two leading researchers who collaborate on groundbreaking approaches to neurodegenerative disease are relocating from Stony Brook University, New York to the University of Rhode Island. William Van Nostrand and John Robinson have made significant discoveries that advance the understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions caused by damage to and destruction of brain cells.

“They bring decades-long records of innovative and productive research that meshes well with the mission of the Institute, and we are excited to welcome them as colleagues to our faculty and mentors to our students,” according to Paula Grammas, executive director of the Ryan Institute.


William Van Nostrand
William Van Nostrand  will join the faculty this summer as professor of biomedical and pharmaceutical science and Herrmann Professor of Neuroscience. He is a professor of neurosurgery at Stony Brook University, where he has been on the faculty since 1995.

He was the first to purify and characterize amyloid precursor protein, the progenitor of the amyloid-beta (A-beta) protein. A-beta clumps into plaques in the brain tissue of Alzheimer’s disease patients, and may contribute to the brain cell death that causes the memory loss, cognitive decline and dementia associated with the disease. Van Nostrand’s research focuses on understanding causes abnormal accumulation of the A-beta protein found in Alzheimer’s disease and a related condition called cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA).

“Understanding how the various forms of amyloid operate and interact in CAA and Alzheimer’s disease is a path to better understanding both diseases. Our goal is ultimately to identify mechanisms of disease that could be targets for new treatments,” Van Nostrand said.


John Robinson
John Robinson will arrive in early 2018. He has been on the Stony Brook faculty since 1994, most recently as professor of psychology. At URI he will be professor of psychology and Ryan Research Professor of Neuroscience.

He has studied the cognitive and behavioral effects of abnormal A-beta in animal models of disease developed in Van Nostrand’s lab. Their collaboration has revealed, for instance, that the A-beta accumulations around blood vessels seen in animal models of CAA are associated with an earlier decline in brain function compared to Alzheimer’s-like A-beta clumps near brain cells.



Source: URI Today | July 6, 2017

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