The Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center (BU ADC) Community Action Council (CAC) met on March 18, 2010. The group discussed a new program from the Alzheimer’s Early Detection Alliance focused on outreach to African American families and churches and a new location-tracking product from the Alzheimer’s Association called Comfort Zone. The CAC meets bimonthly to share information about upcoming events, research, and new developments related to Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers at BUSM have found that angiotensin receptor blockers —a particular class of anti-hypertensive medicines—are associated with a decrease in the occurrence and progression of dementia. Read more at health.msn.com.
The BU ADC announces an opening for a full-time post-doctoral fellowship position to commence in summer 2010. The fellowship provides specialized neuropsychology training and is intended for a candidate wishing to develop an academic career in clinical research. The application deadline is January 15, 2010. Read more about the fellowship program and application details.
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) featured in The New Yorker. Read a recent article in The New Yorker magazine discussing CTE, featuring Dr. Ann McKee of the Center for Traumatic Encephalopathy and director of the BU ADC Neuropathology Core. View a slideshow demonstating the traumatic effects of contact sports on the brain.
The Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center (BU ADC) is involved in a variety of clinical, research, and educational activities. These activities are funded by grants awarded from the National Institutes of Health and nonprofit organizations. Often, research study participants, families, or community leaders wish to contribute to the fight against Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and these private donations are equally important to advancing the BU ADC’s mission. The BU ADC welcomes honorary and memorial donations, as these gifts are an excellent way to pay tribute to a family member or friend while making a contribution to the advancement of research in the field of AD. Please call Harriet Kornfeld at 617-638-5676 or visit us online at www.bu.edu/alzresearch if you would like to make a donation.
The BU ADC would like to recognize the following private donors for their greatly appreciated contributions:
In memory of Philip Balducci
Dominic and Rosalie Cardone
In memory of Ben Chinitz
In memory of Eileen Consolmango
Rich and Ka Nelson
Joseph H. & Judith A. Porto
In memory of Robert J. Therrien
William and Rita MacLeod
Cynthia and Saul Bauman
Mr. and Mrs. Henry Therrien
In memory of Frank Sirois
Mr. and Mrs. Philip Sirois
In memory of Morris Phipps
Brent and Laurie Brooks
Funded by the National Institute on Aging, the Health Outreach Program for the Elderly (HOPE) study evaluates memory and thinking abilities of older adults throughout their lives. The HOPE study serves as the Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center (BU ADC) research registry and includes approximately 500 participants, all of whom agree to be contacted for recruitment into other BU ADC-approved studies. On June 5th, 2009, the HOPE study held its participant appreciation event, the HOPE Brunch, at the Marriot hotel in Newton, MA, with over 200 people in attendance.
The purpose of the brunch was to recognize participants for their valued involvement in the HOPE study and to provide the latest updates on Alzheimer’s disease (AD) research. According to Eric Steinberg, HOPE study project manager, “It’s very heartening for volunteers who are committed to the fight against AD to come together for an educational experience.”
The event began with introductions from Mr. Steinberg, BU ADC Director Dr. Neil Kowall, and Mr. Michael Kincade, who serves as Safety Services and Community Programs Manager for the Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. The program continued with short presentations from a panel of BU ADC researchers that focused on the latest research on AD prevention and treatment methods, the results of the HOPE satisfaction survey, and scientific advances that have resulted directly from the participation and dedication of HOPE participants. Dr. Ann McKee, BU ADC Neuropathology Core Director, elaborated on the purpose of brain donation in AD research. HOPE participant Ms. Phyllis Eliasberg then read a touching letter that she had written to her sons about her decision to participate in the BU ADC brain donation program.
Throughout the brunch, raffles were held with prizes, and certificates of distinction were awarded to individuals for participation in the HOPE study for six years or longer. The BU ADC would like to extend a sincere thank you to everyone who attended the brunch.
The Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center (BU ADC) welcomes new staff members: Nicole Cantwell, research assistant to Dr. Angela Jefferson and PAIRS Program Coordinator; Patrick Curtis, administrative assistant to Drs. Robert Green and Robert Stern; Fareesa Islam, administrative assistant to Dr. Angela Jefferson; Patricia Johnson, psychometrician on the ELAN and ADAPT studies; Denise Lautenbach, MS, Genetic Counselor and REVEAL Project Manager; Theresa McGowan, psychometrician on the ELAN study; and Silvia Serrano, MPH, BU ADC Outreach & Recruitment Coordinator. We also extend a warm welcome to our new student trainees: Michael Dombek, a senior at Boston University, and Bhaavika Patel, a junior at Boston University, who are both working with Dr. Jefferson; and Brittany Masatsugu, a Boston University graduate student who is working as a HOPE psychometrician.
Dr. Alpaslan Dedeoglu, Director of the Translational Neurotherapeutics Laboratory and BU ADC Translational Core Associate Director, recently received an R01 grant from the National Institute on Aging. Dr. Dedeoglu’s project, “Cyclohexanehexol Therapy in Transgenic Models of Alzheimer’s disease (AD),” assesses transgenic mouse brains and the correlation between amyloid-beta and neurofibrillary tangles with magnetic resonance imaging, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and cognitive function. Dr. Dedeoglu is also investigating the effect of non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs and inositols that may alter amyloid-beta aggregation. The BU ADC would like to congratulate Dr. Gwendalyn King, a biochemistry postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Carmela Abraham, who was awarded a prestigious K99 award from the National Institute on Aging for research on the anti-aging/protective gene Klotho. Dr. Abraham’s group found that Klotho levels are decreased in the aged brain and more so in models of AD. Dr. King’s award will allow her to continue studies to determine why Klotho is decreased with age and how its production is regulated in the brain. In parallel studies, Dr. King has identified potential novel drugs to elevate the Klotho protein. Experiments in animals will establish whether increasing this molecule is protective against neurodegenerative diseases, such as AD.
Many thanks and best wishes to the BU ADC staff who have recently left to pursue new directions: Susan Hiraki, MS, who left the REVEAL Study in May to pursue a master’s degree in public health in New York; and Stephanie Sikora, who left the BU ADC in September to relocate to Arizona. Thank you and best wishes to our recent student trainees: Monique Pimontel, who completed her master’s degree at Boston University and has since moved to New York to pursue a psychometrician position; and Morgan McGillicuddy, who has left to pursue her PhD in clinical psychology at the University of Maine.
Greater Boston Memory Walk
The Memory Walk is the Alzheimer’s Association’s largest fundraising event. Walks take place annually in more than 600 communities nationwide. On Sunday, September 27th, the faculty, staff, participants and friends of the Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center (BU ADC) participated in the Greater Boston Memory Walk in Cambridge, MA. This year, the BU ADC team welcomed staff and friends of one of our continuing care retirement community affiliates, Senior Living Residences, and together we raised over $11,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association!
An Optical Test for Early Detection
Building on their exciting discovery that amyloidbeta protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) can be detected in the lens of an eye, Drs. Lee Goldstein and Juliet Moncaster and their team are developing new non-invasive optical tests that can detect and track the disease process in its earliest stages. Such tests are being developed and tested in mice. At the recent 13th meeting of the International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease in Vienna, Austria, Drs. Goldstein and Moncaster presented a corresponding finding that amyloid-beta is also found in the lenses of patients with Down syndrome.
Envisioning Future Events is Impaired in AD
It is well-known that patients with AD have trouble remembering information from the recent past, but do they have difficulty imagining the future as well? This question is exactly what Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center (BU ADC) researchers Drs. Andrew Budson and Brandon Ally investigated in their paper, “Episodic simulation of future events is impaired in mild AD,” published in Neuropsychologia earlier this year. Patients with AD and healthy older adult controls were given a series of cue words and asked to either remember events from the past or imagine future events related to that word. Not only did the patients with AD have difficulty with both past and future tasks compared to the controls, the findings suggest that the same brain system responsible for remembering the past is also in charge of envisioning the future.
Ibuprofen & Cognitive Performance
In a collaborative project across several cores of the BU ADC, Drs. Ann McKee, Neil Kowall, and Alpaslan Dedeoglu recently published findings in Brain Research on the effects of ibuprofen on cognitive deficits, amyloid-beta, and tau accumulation in young triple transgenic mice. Learning performance of the mice was significantly improved with ibuprofen treatment compared to mice who did not receive the treatment. Ibuprofen-treated transgenic mice showed a significant decrease in intraneuronal oligomeric amyloid-beta and hyperphosphorylated tau immunoreactivity in the hippocampus, a part of the brain responsible for learning new information. Additional data suggest that intraneuronal amyloid-beta may be a cause of cognitive impairment. These findings support the idea that pathological alterations of tau are associated with intraneuronal oligomeric amyloid-beta accumulation.
Psychological Effects of Genetic Disclosure
Dr. Robert Green and the REVEAL study group recently published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine on the psychological effects of disclosing the AD risk-increasing apolipoprotein (APOE) ε4 genotype to adult children of patients with AD. Dr. Green and his colleagues found there were no significant increases in levels of anxiety, depression, or test-related distress for those who learned they were ε4-positive compared to those who did not receive their genotyping results, suggesting that disclosure of APOE genotype does not result in short-term psychological risks.
|BU ADC Research Registry||Health Outreach Program for the Elderly (HOPE)||This longitudinal study examines age-related changes in memory and thinking. It serves as the Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center (BU ADC) research registry, where participants agree to be contacted about other BU ADC-approved studies. HOPE participants are encouraged to participate in the actively recruiting studies summarized below.|
|Caregiving Support & Education||Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) Care||This one-year study examines a new instrument to assess caregiver burden and the well-being of the person with dementia for whom the caregiver provides support. Participation includes three to five in-person study visits and periodic phone calls.|
|CARE-Plus||This study examines whether an educational intervention with caregivers can reduce behavioral problems in AD patients and improve caregivers’ well-being. Participation includes a 5-week intervention with weekly sessions on AD and tips to improve interactions. The individual with AD is not involved in this study.|
|Health Pathways||This study looks at how caregiving affects one’s physical and emotional health among caregivers age 60 and older who currently care for someone with AD. Participants attend four yearly face-to-face interviews where they will be asked questions about their health and about the person they care for.|
|Home Safety Education||This study compares two types of education to fi nd out if they help caregivers living with a person with AD or dementia make home safety modifications. This study includes two home visits for data collection and safety education. After three months, each participant is offered the alternative education.|
|PAIRS Program||This program pairs first-year Boston University medical students with patients with early-stage AD. The program educates medical students about the care and support-related issues faced by patients with AD. Student-patient pairs meet monthly to participate in activities throughout the academic year.|
|Evaluation of Daily Living||Functional Assessment in Dementia||This study investigates the relationship between office-based cognitive tests and independent functioning in the home. Individuals with dementia who are not living in an assisted living facility or nursing home may be eligible to participate.|
|SAFE Drivers||This study aims to develop a brief, office-based evaluation of driving safety for older drivers that accurately predicts on-road driving performance. Study participation is for drivers with or without memory problems between 55 and 90 years of age. The two study visits involve office-based cognitive tests and an on-the-road driving evaluation conducted by a certified driving instructor.|
|Memory & Cognition||False Memory in AD||This study seeks to understand why patients with AD and other dementias frequently remember things that never happened. The goal of this study is to provide ways to reduce false memories in patients with dementia.|
|Vision & Cognition||This study examines visual change in AD, how it affects cognition and daily activities, and how visual interventions may improve cognitive abilities. Participants perform tests of vision, cognition, and daily functions, and a free eye exam is included.|
|Neuroimaging||Heart & Brain Aging||This study uses heart and brain imaging and memory tests to better understand relations between heart and brain health among aging adults with mild memory loss, particularly those individuals who have been diagnosed with “mild cognitive impairment.” Participants attend a single study visit, and laboratory results are shared with the participants’ physicians.|
|This multi-center treatment trial will evaluate a new oral medication, Dimebon. Dimebon may stabilize unhealthy changes in brain cells in individuals with mild or moderate AD. Participants must be 50 years of age or older and need a study partner to accompany them to study visits.|
|IDENTITY||This multi-center treatment trial will evaluate if an oral medication, “LY450139,” can slow the progression of mild or moderate AD. This new compound attempts to reduce amyloid-beta (Abeta) in the brain. Abeta has been linked to AD. Study participation is for adults over 55 years of age with a diagnosis of AD.|
|Investigational Clinical Amyloid Research in Alzheimer’s||This multi-center treatment trial will evaluate whether a new medication, Bapineuzumab, increases the clearance of Abeta from the brain. Abeta is believed to be the initial cause of AD. This treatment study is for adults 50-89 years of age with an AD diagnosis. Participants will need a study partner to accompany them to study visits.|
For more information, please contact the BU ADC Outreach & Recruitment Coordinator,
Silvia Serrano, at 617-414-1078 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center (BU ADC) is pleased to announce the recent addition of Silvia Serrano, MPH, who joined our team in September 2009. Silvia will serve as the new BU ADC Outreach & Recruitment Coordinator, predominantly focused on recruitment efforts for the Health Outreach Program for the Elderly (HOPE) study. She will oversee recruitment and community outreach needs for the broader BU ADC clinical research portfolio. Silvia’s primary interests include educating populations at risk for contracting Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and increasing their participation in medical research. Prior to working with the BU ADC, Silvia worked with local and state public health agencies, developing chronic and infectious disease prevention programs. Her most recent role was managing cancer prevention screenings and infectious disease programs. Silvia is a recent recipient of a master’s degree in public health from Boston University with a concentration in social and behavioral sciences
The BU ADC is also pleased to announce that Susan Lambe, who has been serving as a consultant to the Center for the past year, has joined our team as the Brain Donation Outreach & Education Coordinator. Susan’s new role will include conducting focus groups with African American participants in the HOPE study and improving Center efforts to enhance African American representation in the BU ADC brain donation program. The position is being funded by a special supplement grant awarded to Dr. Angela Jefferson and the BU ADC as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Susan is currently a fourth-year doctoral student in clinical psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Her professional interests include healthcare disparities, culturally relevant mental health services, and psychological effects of racism and discrimination.