Researching Alzheimer's Disease


UW women scientists tell us about their race for better understanding, treatments—and a cure.


By Lisa Bauer

Dr. Amy Kind

UW School of Medicine and Public Health

We develop innovative ways to eliminate health disparities in Alzheimer’s through research. For example, we examine how living in a disadvantaged neighborhood—one with substandard housing, poverty, low education and high unemployment—impacts Alzheimer’s risk and overall brain health. This helps us to better understand the fundamental mechanistic linkages between disadvantage and Alzheimer’s, providing a potential pathway to new therapeutics.

 

Taylor Fields, Graduate Student

UW-Madison

I’m interested in the relationship between hearing, cognition and Alzheimer’s disease—how hearing problems may contribute to the risk for cognitive impairment and how the presence of Alzheimer’s pathology in auditory brain regions may affect hearing abilities.

 

Dr. Carey Gleason

UW School of Medicine and Public Health

The driving force behind my research program has been the desire to improve diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s and dementia for all individuals, including women, African-Americans and other groups traditionally under-represented in research. My research program studies the cognitive effects of estrogens and estrogenic compounds and health disparities in Alzheimer’s. The belief that research discoveries should benefit all groups unifies seemingly disparate lines of scientific inquiry.

 

Dr. Megan Zuelsdorff

UW-Madison Center for Demography of Health and Aging

I am a social epidemiologist focused on modifiable risk and protective factors for age-related cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. I study the ways that an adverse social environment— stressful experiences, financial insecurity, discrimination and more—influences later-life cognition and contributes to socioeconomic and racial disparities in Alzheimer’s. The ultimate goal of this work is to identify personal and community resources and interventions to buffer the cognitive impacts of adversity and maximize healthy aging for all individuals.

 

Dr. Lindsay Clark

UW School of Medicine and Public Health

My research examines neuroimaging, cerebrospinal fluid and cognitive measures to improve detection of preclinical Alzheimer’s disease and better predict who is at highest risk for dementia. I also study how vascular risk factors and reduced cerebral blood flow interact with Alzheimer’s biomarkers in midlife to increase risk. This work is important because earlier detection and implementation of interventions and prevention strategies may slow or prevent the progression of disease pathology, ultimately reducing the number of older adults who suffer from dementia.

Dr. Cynthia Carlsson

UW School of Medicine and Public Health

A geriatrician at the William S. Middleton VA Hospital, I treat veterans with dementia. As an associate professor of medicine, I also conduct research looking at the effectiveness of medications used to treat and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Kimberly Mueller

UW School of Medicine and Public Health

I study speech and language changes in the course of Mild Cognitive Impairment and early Alzheimer’s disease. By learning how and when speech changes, I hope to develop cognitive-communication therapies that can help patients and their families communicate across all stages of the disease.

 

Dr. Jill Barnes

UW-Madison School of Education Department of Kinesiology

My laboratory studies how age-associated changes in the structure and function of blood vessels influence the control of blood flow to the brain. In addition, we focus on how lifestyle modifications, such as regular exercise, may prevent the negative consequences of aging on brain blood flow regulation. These studies will help identify therapeutic strategies that prevent or delay the onset of cognitive decline that will ultimately improve the quality of life in aging populations.

 

Don’t miss BRAVA’s in-depth look at the issue of Alzheimer’s Disease here and in the November edition of BRAVA Magazine.



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