FTD Biomarkers Initiative

This funding initiative is no longer accepting applications. AFTD continues to support critical biomarker research through our other grant programs, including our partnerships with the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) and Target ALS.

Biomarkers—characteristics that can be objectively measured as indicators of underlying biological or pathological processes—enable clinicians and researchers to accurately diagnose disease, monitor disease progression, and assess treatment outcomes. The development of specific and reliable biomarkers to differentiate FTD from other neurodegenerative disorders, distinguish FTD-tau from FTD-TDP, identify the earliest stages of disease, and inform drug development is an urgent priority for FTD clinical research.

The FTD Biomarker Initiative, a major AFTD funding opportunity demonstrated AFTD’s leadership in addressing the urgent need for FTD biomarkers. Between 2016 and 2021, we invested $5 million to support 14 innovative projects focused on advancing biomarker discovery and development for disorders across the FTD spectrum.

FTD Biomarkers Initiative Award Recipients


Headshots / Dr. Anthony Fitzpatrick

Cryo-electron microscopy of brain-derived TDP-43 filaments to rationally design PET ligands for FTD

Anthony Fitzpatrick, PhD | Columbia University

Headshots / Lashley_Sander

Accelerating tau PET imaging through head-to-head comparison of novel radiotracers

Tammaryn Lashley, PhD and Kerstin Sander, PhD | University College London
$247,272 (co-funded with FBRI LLC)

Headshots / Leonard Petrucelli, PhD-1

Assessing poly(GP) proteins as clinical and pharmacodynamic biomarkers of C9ORF72-associated FTD

Leonard Petrucelli | Mayo Clinic Jacksonville

Headshots / Magdalini Polymenidou

Targeting structural alterations of TDP-43 and other proteins to develop biomarkers for FTLD subtypes

Magdalini Polymenidou, PhD | University of Zurich

Headshots / Lashley_Sander

Mapping neuroinflammation in frontotemporal lobar degeneration–development of a surrogate marker for early diagnosis and disease progression

Tammaryn Lashley, PhD and Kerstin Sander, PhD | University College London


Headshots / Boxer_Rosen

Individualized clinical and MRI endpoints for clinical trials in frontotemporal lobar degeneration, a pilot study

Adam Boxer, MD and Howard Rosen, MD | UCSF

The goal of this project was to develop new statistical models of disease progression in genetic FTD. These models could ultimately improve our ability to evaluate the effectiveness of new treatments.  

Headshots / Timothy-Miller

Generation of a PET tracer for TDP-43 aggregates for ALS and FTD

Timothy Miller, MD | Washington University at St. Louis

This award supported the radiolabeling and characterization of prospective PET ligands for TDP-43.


Headshots / Randall Bateman Headshot square

Human CNS tau kinetics in tauopathies

Randall Bateman, MD | Washington University at St. Louis

Headshots / Christian-Haass

sTREM2, PGRN and GRN as CSF markers for microglial activity, disease progression and therapeutic target engagement 

Christian Haass, PhD | Ludwig-Maximilians University and DZNE

Headshots / Leonard Petrucelli, PhD-1

Assessing poly(GP) proteins as clinical and pharmacodynamic biomarkers of C9orf72-associated FTD

Leonard Petrucelli | Mayo Clinic Jacksonville

Transcription of a hexanucleotide expansion in the C9orf72 gene leads to the production of abnormal dipeptide repeat proteins (DPRs). This project focused on the development of a highly sensitive assay for one DPR, poly(GP).

Headshots / Jonathan Rohrer, MRCP, PhD-1

Identification of novel biofluid markers of tau and TDP-43 pathology

Jonathan Rohrer, MD | University College London

 Dr. Rohrer’s project sought to identify protein isoforms and protein fragments specific to tau and TDP-43 that could be used to develop CSF and blood-based assays to aid in differentiating FTD-tau and FTD-TDP.

Headshots / Judith Steen

Quantitative profiling of tau in CSF to pilot diagnoses and monitoring treatment effectiveness in FTD patients | Using TDP43 as a biomarker in FTD patients

Judith Steen, PhD | Boston Children’s Hospital
$325,545   |  $189,455

These complementary awards supported the development of novel assays for post-translational modifications to tau and TDP-43.

FTD Biomarkers Initiative Scientific Advisory Board

Headshots / Jang-ho Cha, MD, PhD-1

Jang-ho Cha, MD, PhD
Global Translational Medicine Head, Neuroscience Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NBIR)

Headshots / John Dunlop, PhD-1

John Dunlop, PhD
Vice President, Neuroscience Research Amgen

Headshots / Mark Forman, MD, PhD-1

Mark Forman, MD, PhD
Executive Director, Translational Medicine Merck

Murray Grossman

Murray Grossman, MD
Professor of Neurology Director, Penn FTD Center University of Pennsylvania Medical School

Headshots / Carole Ho, MD-1

Carole Ho, MD
Chief Medical Officer Head of Development Denali Therapeutics

Keith A. Johnson Nuc Med Director of Molecular Neuro Imaging

Keith Johnson, MD
Professor of Radiology & Neurology Harvard Medical School Director, Molecular Neuroimaging, Massachusetts General Hospital

Headshots / David Knopman, MD-1

David Knopman, MD
Professor of Neurology Mayo Clinic – Rochester MN AFTD Medical Advisory Council

Headshots / Kimberly Scearce-Levie, PhD-1

Kimberly Scearce-Levie, PhD
Director, Preclinical Translational Biology Denali Therapeutics

Headshots / Ian Mackenzie, MD-1

Ian Mackenzie, MD
Professor of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine University  of British Columbia

Headshots / Leonard Petrucelli, PhD-1

Leonard Petrucelli, PhD
Professor of Neuroscience Mayo Clinic – Jacksonville FL

Headshots / Jonathan Rohrer, MRCP, PhD-1

Jonathan Rohrer, MRCP, PhD
Clinical Lecturer & Neurologist University College London Principal Investigator, Genetic FTD Initiative (GENFI)

Headshots / Philipp von Rosenstiel, MD-1

Philipp von Rosenstiel, MD
Senior Medical Director Neurology, Early Clinical Development Biogen

Headshots / Scott Small, MD-1

Scott Small, MD
Boris and Rose Katz Professor of Neurology Director, Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center Columbia University

Headshots / Stacie Weninger, PhD-1

Stacie Weninger, PhD
Chair Executive Director F-Prime Biomedical Research Initiative

Headshots / Henrik Zetterberg, MD-1

Henrik Zetterberg, MD
PhD Professor of Neurochemistry University of Gothenburg