In 1999, the 76th Texas Legislature enacted Chapter 154, Texas Education Code, mandated that the Texas Council on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders establish the Texas Alzheimer's Research Consortium, later renamed to the Texas Alzheimer’s Research and Care Consortium (TARCC). The consortium was initially comprised of four major medical research institutions:
- Baylor College of Medicine in Houston
- Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock
- The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas
- University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth
The first state funding for Alzheimer's research in Texas history was approved in 2005 by the 79th Texas Legislature, which appropriated $2 million to fund the Texas Alzheimer's Research and Care Consortium's (TARCC) first two years of set-up, volunteer recruitment, and data collection. In 2007, Texas lawmakers nearly doubled the state's initial investment in the Consortium. In 2009, state lawmakers approved $6.5 million in funding for the TARCC to build on its early work, recruit more volunteers (including participants diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment; MCI), and launch a new research focus on the impact of Alzheimer's disease on Hispanics. The addition of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio to the TARCC in 2009 facilitated Hispanic recruitment -- and made it possible for Texas to assume a national leadership role in this underserved area of Alzheimer's research. The State's allotment in 2011 was 5.23 million to continue enrollment and follow up visits of the initial participants as well as over 500 Hispanic individuals and 125 participants diagnosed with MCI.
By statutory authority of the Texas Council on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders, two new member institutions have been added to TARCC since its inception - The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and Texas A&M University Health Science Center. This move has greatly increased Texas’ capacity to expand and advance research and discovery to improve early diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
The TARCC has now recruited more than 2000 volunteers (over 500 of whom are Hispanic) from across the state to participate in cutting-edge research to isolate and identify:
- Genetic factors associated with the onset of Alzheimer's disease, and
- Biological markers for inflammation, cardiovascular disease, risk factors for heart disease, and failure to control blood sugar (diabetes) that impact the development and progression of Alzheimer's disease.
The Texas Alzheimer's Research and Care Consortium has established a large shared Texas Alzheimer's DataBank that includes standardized clinical, neuropsychiatric, genetic and blood biomarker data on Alzheimer's patients, individuals diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and healthy control subjects who are seen at each of the TARCC member sites. Importantly, samples and data from TARCC participants are collected annually at follow up visits. The longitudinal nature of the TARCC study is a key strength, allowing analysis of disease progression.