The Common Alzheimer's Disease Research Ontology (CADRO)

The Common Alzheimer's Disease Research Ontology (CADRO) is a classification system developed by the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer's Association that can be used to integrate and compare AD research portfolios from public and private organizations supporting AD research in the US and abroad. Recently, topics and themes have been added to 'Category H. AD-Related' to capture basic, translational and clinical research associated with other dementias.

The CADRO was constructed as a three-tier classification system organized around seven major categories: six in research and two resource-related:

  • Category A. Molecular Pathogenesis and Pathophysiology of Alzheimer's Disease
  • Category B. Diagnosis, Assessment and Disease Monitoring
  • Category C. Translational Research and Clinical Interventions
  • Category D. Epidemiology
  • Category E. Care, Support and Health Economics of Alzheimer's Diseases
  • Category F. Research Resources
  • Category G. Consortia and Public Private Partnerships
  • Category H. Alzheimer's Disease - Related Dementias

Using information from project abstracts and research aims, the above categories were stratified into research topics and these were further divided into research themes ( or cadro_outline_-_january_2013.pdf)

The three levels of classification are meant to enable a fine-grained portfolio analysis that can inform strategic planning and funding decisions. The CADRO was developed as a dynamic portfolio analysis tool that can be used to: (i) capture the changing landscape of AD research funded by different organizations, (ii) identify opportunities for coordination of support for AD research, and (iii) identify funding gaps as well as areas of overlap within and across organizations.

Similar efforts on behalf of other diseases with high public health impact have been very productive. For example, the National Cancer Institute, through the leadership of the International Cancer Research Partnership (, has developed a common framework which has been successfully used by funding organizations to support strategic coordination of funding efforts for cancer.