Home » News Update – April 1, 2022

    News Update – April 1, 2022

    Congratulations to our Research Education Component (REC) Scholars

    The Duke/UNC ADRC’s Research Education Component (REC) is proud to announce the inaugural cohort of REC Scholars. Each scholar will receive $10,000 per year for two years to support their Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) research.

    They will also receive mentorship from ADRC-affiliated senior researchers and support from the REC team and their mentors for accomplishing their professional development goals. Each scholar will form a mentorship committee and create a professional development and mentoring plan. REC Scholars will also contribute to module development for an ADRD online curriculum that will be an ongoing resource to early-career investigators who would like to learn more about ADRD research.  Below are brief summaries of the REC Scholars’ research projects:

    • Melissa Harris, PhD, RN
      Postdoctoral Research Fellow
      Duke University and Durham VA Healthcare System

      Development of a Dyadic Stress Management Toolkit for Dementia Caring Dyads
      This study will use a human-centered design approach to develop and user-test a dyadic stress management toolkit for persons living with dementia and their care partners. This study will also examine the feasibility of collecting stress-related outcome measures among participant dyads.

    • Jui-Heng (Henry) Tseng, PhD
      Lead Research Scientist
      Department of Neurology
      University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

      Deciphering the Aged Tau Species that Evolve During Normal Aging
      This study will characterize novel post-translational tau modifications the team refers to as “aged tau” in wild-type mice and cognitively normal human brains and their roles in the context of normal aging. The research team will then explore potential gene therapy manipulations of “aged tau” as therapeutic interventions for age-related cognitive decline and early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

    • Ling Wu, MD, PhD
      Research Assistant Professor Biotechnology Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE Institute)
      North Carolina Central University

      New Biomarkers for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Tauopathies Diagnosis
      This study will validate and evaluate the specificity and sensitivity of novel misfolded tau Alzheimer’s disease (AD) biomarkers. Towards early-stage AD diagnosis, these validated AD biomarkers will be used to identify and develop misfolded tau-based biomarkers for mild cognitive impairment. Diagnostic performance will be compared to that of existing p-tau biomarkers.

    Call for SLAM-DUNC Abstracts

    The Duke-UNC ADRC is now accepting abstract submissions for our first Symposium for Learning about Alzheimer’s disease-related Medical Research at Duke and UNC, also known as SLAM-DUNC. The symposium, to be held on June 24 – 25 at the Duke Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center, is designed to be a valuable professional development and networking opportunity for early-career investigators from all five partner institutions: Duke, UNC, North Carolina Central University, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and East Carolina University. We would love to see abstracts from all institutions and from a variety of career levels, including undergraduates. Submission deadline is Tuesday, May 3. If you have questions, please contact Jillian Hurst at jillian.hurst@duke.eduLearn more >

    From the April 1 edition of the Duke Neurology News

    Final Four game to determine ownership of Duke-UNC ADRC

    Complete ownership of all the Duke-UNC Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, including its title and all of its facilities, research, equipment, and funding will go to the university whose team wins the NCAA “Final Four” game this Saturday, thanks to a bet between the ADRC’s respective co-directors. “Gwenn Garden, MD [UNC ADRC co-director], kept saying it was a shame that Coach K had to end his career with two straight losses to his biggest rival, so I told her to put her money where her mouth was,” said Heather Whitson, MD, co-director of the ADRC on the Duke side. “Things got heated from there.”  Read more >


    Co-director Dr. Heather Whitson describes some of the exciting research happening at the Duke-UNC ADRC in this video produced by the Duke Science and Technology Initiative.

    Training opportunity for early career scientists

     The National Institute on Aging Butler-Williams Scholars Program is now accepting applications for their 2022 cohort.

    The Butler-Williams (B-W) Scholars Program provides a powerful pathway for early-career scientists to expand their networks, advance grant writing skills, and gain a broader understanding of the science NIA conducts and supports. Early Career Scientists who are new to the field of aging may gain more knowledge about aging research as well as health disparities research in aging. It includes scientific presentations and small group activities related to the life course of aging, including: the biology of aging; genetics and Alzheimer’s disease; and health, behavior, and aging.

    Researchers from diverse backgrounds, with disabilities and/or who have an interest in health disparities research are encouraged to apply.

    Application details can be found here. Applications are due April 15, 2022. For more information about the program’s benefits, check out this post from the NIA Blog.

    $60,000 entrepreneurial challenge to spark diversity and innovation

    Underrepresented scientists and entrepreneurs — including women, racial and ethnic minorities, sexual and gender minorities, and people with disabilities — face unique challenges when applying for NIH Small Business Innovation Research or Small Business Technology Transfer grants.

    To help bridge those gaps, NIA launched the Healthy Aging Start-Up Challenge and Bootcamp to Foster Diversity and Accelerate Innovation. Up to 20 finalists will be selected for a four-month entrepreneurial bootcamp and a chance to compete for a $60,000 cash prize. If you’re an innovation minded scientist looking for a “Shark Tank” style challenge, register for the April 20 webinar to learn more and apply by May 23. Read the full Inside NIA blog post.

    Meet the ADRC Staff!

    A continuing series to introduce members of our ADRC

    Quirina Vallejos
    Social/Clinical Research Specialist, Research Education Component

    Quirina Vallejos is a graduate of Duke University where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies. She later received a Master of Public Health degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Quirina’s passion is promoting health equity among vulnerable populations. She is pleased to be working with the UNC Center for Aging and Health and supporting the Research Education Component’s efforts to develop a diverse workforce in ADRD research.

    In her free time, Quirina enjoys spending time with her family, preferably outdoors. She loves camping, hiking, cycling, learning to sail, and hot yoga.

    UW–Madison Alzheimer’s research featured on ‘NOVA’

     A documentary about some of the research being conducted by scientists at the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention will premiere on April 6 as part of the PBS series NOVA. Filmed over five years, Determined: Fighting Alzheimer’s is an independent documentary portraying the stories of three women and their decision to participate in Alzheimer’s disease research. Watch a preview >

    Upcoming Events

    April 21, 6 – 7:30pm

    UNC neurologist, Heidi Roth, MD, (Clinical Core) will present “Understanding Frontotemporal Dementia and Primary Progressive Aphasias” as part of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Under the Dementia Umbrella series . Register >

    April 26, 1 – 2pm

    Duke-UNC ADRC All Hands Meeting for faculty and staff.

    Send us your news to share with the Duke and UNC Alzheimer’s disease research communities!