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Studying Early Signs of Dementia in Younger, More Diverse Patient Population

New NIH-funded center focuses on identifying age-related changes across the lifespan

The newest NIH Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC)—a collaboration established in Fall 2021 between Duke and the University of North Carolina (UNC)—is focused on identifying age-related changes across the lifespan that impact the development, progression, and experience of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The center will also identify how factors that arise in early- and mid-life contribute to racial, ethnic, and geographic disparities in dementia. Read article>

Can Preserving Vision and Hearing Prevent Dementia?

Heather Whitson, MD, MHS, is quoted in this article published by ALZFORUM in March 2022:

While scientists know that age-related hearing loss increases a person’s risk of dementia, their view of how vision loss affects cognition is fuzzy. It may be coming into focus, though. Recently, scientists reported that people who had surgery to remove cataracts were 30 percent less likely to be diagnosed with dementia than those who went untreated. Recent meta-analyses of observational studies suggest that fading eyesight increases dementia risk up to twofold. Could simply preserving or restoring people’s vision and hearing lower the incidence of dementia? Prospective trials addressing this possibility are ongoing. Read article >

SLAM-DUNC!

Graphic figure with basketballThe first Symposium for Learning about Alzheimer’s disease-related Medical research at Duke and UNC (SLAM-DUNC) will be held Friday-Saturday, June 24 – 25 at the Duke Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center. The symposium is open to researchers, clinicians, and trainees from Duke, UNC, NCCU, UNC-Pembroke, and ECU and will include:

  • Research presentations from REC Scholars and trainees
  • A poster session
  • Networking sessions
  • Information about ADRC core resources

Register by June 1.

Submit your abstracts!

We are accepting submissions from early career investigators from five partner institutions: Duke, UNC Chapel Hill, North Carolina Central University, UNC Pembroke, and Eastern Carolina University. Submission deadline is 11:59 pm, Tuesday, May 3, 2022.

Register and learn more!

Duke-led Research Teams Receive Norins Awards to Explore the Germ Hypothesis of Alzheimer’s Disease

Victor L. Perez Quinones, MD; Michael P. Vitek, PhD; Alexandra Badea, PhD
Victor L. Perez Quinones, MD; Michael P. Vitek, PhD; Alexandra Badea, PhD

Two Duke-led research projects exploring the role that infections or microbes might play in Alzheimer’s disease have received $50,000 Duke/UNC Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center Norins Pilot Awards. The Norins Pilot Awards, coordinated by the Duke University Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, are intended to stimulate and support collaborative, innovative research on the potential role of microbes or pathogens in the development of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Two projects were selected for funding from a highly competitive field of proposals:

  • “Investigating the Utility of Corneal Staining for Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease,” led by principal investigator Victor L. Perez Quinones, MD, the Stephen and Frances Foster Distinguished Professor of Ocular Immunology and Inflammation in the Duke Department of Ophthalmology, along with collaborators Gerald B. Pier, PhD, professor of medicine, and Colette Cywes-Bentley, PhD, assistant professor of medicine, both at Harvard Medical School. The researchers will seek to determine whether microbial antigens on ocular surface and/or corneal epithelium can be used to identify individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • “Testing the Germ Theory of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) by Focusing on P. gingivalis and Apolipoprotein-E,” led by principal investigator Michael P. Vitek, PhD, adjunct associate professor in the Duke Department of Neurology, and collaborators Alexandra Badea, PhD, associate professor of radiology and neurology at Duke, and Ian Shih, PhD, associate professor of neurology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

They will work to establish preliminary data exploring the interaction of P. gingivalis infection (the keystone bacteria associated with gingivitis and periodontal disease) and the APOE genotype (recognized as one of the largest risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s Disease) in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

These awards are made possible by generous support from Dr. Leslie Norins, MD’62, and Ms. Rainey Norins.

For more information on key gaps and high priority topics related to the potential role of infection, microbes, and inflammation in Alzheimer’s disease, please see the recording of the Duke/UNC ADRC 2021 symposium at Duke/UNC ADRC 2021 Symposium.

New Alzheimer’s Disease Research Forum to Launch in January

ADRD IDEAS ForumAll trainees (fellows, postdocs, junior faculty, residents, research associates, etc.) interested in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) are invited to attend the inaugural meeting of the ADRD IDEAS Forum to be held monthly by the Duke-UNC ADRC.

UNC Professor of Neurology Gwenn Garden, MD, PhD, will be the guest speaker for the first forum session scheduled for Tuesday, January 25 at 4:30pm EST via Zoom.

Learn more >

Duke-UNC ADRC announces three research funding opportunities

Duke-UNC ADRC logo

The Duke/UNC ADRC is pleased to announce the release of three funding opportunities for researchers at Duke and UNC studying Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. One of the awards, the REC Scholar, is also open to candidates from UNC Pembroke, North Carolina Central University, and East Carolina University. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact program faculty to discuss proposal plans prior to submission. Start date for all awards is July 1, 2022. Learn more >

The National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center (NACC) is now accepting applications for the 2022-2023 New Investigator Awards

New Investigator Awards are open to all ADRC-affiliated researchers. This funding opportunity was developed to support new and early-career investigators, as they further their career development in Alzheimer’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease Related Dementias (AD/ADRD) research. The maximum total funding for each project will be $135,000, which is inclusive of any indirect costs. Learn more >

  • November 19, 2021 – Optional Letter of Intent (Due)
  • January 21, 2022 – Full Application Packet (Due)
  • June 1, 2022 – May 31, 2023 – Funding Awarded

UNC-Duke center receives $14.8 million in NIH funding for Alzheimer’s research

Daily Tar Heel article published on Friday, September 24 featuring interviews with Drs. Welsh-Bohmer, Whitson and Garden.