Dr. Alberto Costa received his MD from the State University of Rio de Janeiro, and his PhD from the Institute of Biophysics Carlos Chagas Filho, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He trained as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, University of Maryland, School of Medicine, and was a Research Associate at the Department of Neuroscience, Baylor College of Medicine. As an independent investigator, he first held the position of Research Scientist at The Jackson Laboratory. Then he moved his research program to the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute/University of Denver, where he served as an Institute Scientist/Research Associate Professor for five years, and then went to the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine as an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology and the Neuroscience Graduate Training Program. He joined the Division of Pediatric Neurology at Case Western Reserve University in March 2013, where he is Professor of Pediatrics. He is the recipient of the “Science Scholar Award” from the National Down Syndrome Society (New York, NY), the “Josephine Mills Research Award for Exceptional Contribution to Research in Down Syndrome", from the Down Syndrome Research Foundation (Vancouver, BC, Canada), and the Christian Pueschel Memorial Research Award, from the National Down Syndrome Congress (Roswell, GA). During his career, he has received multiple research funding awards from the National Institutes of Health and major private funding from several philanthropic foundations. At present, the Alana Foundation, Awakening Angels Foundation, and the Ohio State Department of Disability are the main funding sources for his research program.
Dr. Costa has spent the past 18 years investigating the biological underpinnings of Down syndrome and searching for potential drug therapies to enhance cognition and prevent the development of Alzheimer-type dementia in persons with this genetic disorder. Among dozens of successfully completed projects, he led pioneering research on the effects of the antidepressant fluoxetine on enhancing adult neurogenesis in the mouse model for Down syndrome Ts65Dn. His research team was also the first to demonstrate learning and memory enhancing effects of the Alzheimer’s disease drug memantine on these animals. Recently, he translated these findings into the first clinical study in the field of Down syndrome based directly on experimental results in animal models. In this pilot study, a small, but significant effect of memantine treatment was found in one measure of long-term memory in young adults with Down syndrome. Results from this study can be found at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3410988/. Dr. Costa and his research team are currently recruiting adolescents and young adults for a follow-up, confirmatory study of the effects of memantine on the cognitive abilities of individuals with Down syndrome: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02304302