Category: Uncategorized

New Faculty Members

September 18th, 2009 in Newsletter, Uncategorized

wendy-qui

Wendy Qiu, MD, PhD

Wendy Qiu, MD, PhD, a board-certified psychiatrist and an Alzheimer’s disease (AD) researcher, will be joining the Boston University School of Medicine faculty in December 2009 as Assistant Professor of Psychiatry.

Dr. Qiu identified the role of insulin-degrading enzyme in the clearance of amyloid-beta peptides while working in Dr. Dennis Selkoe’s laboratory at Harvard Medical School. Recently, she and her research team have defined a possible depression subtype for a prodromal (or early) stage of AD. Dr. Qiu has been on the faculty at Tufts University School of Medicine for several years, and she recently received an R01 grant from the National Institute on Aging to support her research examining AD risk factors.

Dr. Qiu will be collaborating with the Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center (BU ADC) to study the role that depression and type 2 diabetes each play in developing AD.

brandon-gavett

Brandon Gavett, PhD

Brandon Gavett, PhD, recently completed his neuropsychology post-doctoral training at the BU ADC, and he has been appointed to Instructor of Neurology  at Boston University School of Medicine.

Dr. Gavett received his PhD in clinical psychology from the State University of New York at Albany, and he completed an internship in clinical psychology/neuropsychology at the Veterans Affairs Connecticut Health Care System in West Haven.

Dr. Gavett’s role at the BU ADC will primarily focus on research and clinical activities. He is seeking career development funding to conduct research and receive training in chronic traumatic encephalopathy as part of Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy. Dr. Gavett will be overseeing new and ongoing research projects within the BU ADC.

New Funding to Continue the ADAPT Study

September 18th, 2009 in Uncategorized

adapt-team

ADAPT Study team members (left to right): Patricia Johnson, Dr. Robert Stern, Jane Mwicigi, and Dr. Brandon Gavett

An important area of research in the field of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is identifying methods to prevent the development of AD well before symptoms develop. One particular area of focus in preventative research is the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The Alzheimer’s Disease Anti-Inflammatory Prevention Trial (ADAPT) was funded by the National Institutes of Health between 2001-2006 to determine if NSAIDs can prevent or delay the onset of AD. The Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center (BU ADC) was one of six participating sites for this multi-center investigation. When the study began in April 2001, it was the first-ever AD prevention trial using NSAIDs and the largest AD prevention trial in the world. Those individuals over age 70 who had an immediate family member diagnosed with AD, and thus had an increased risk of developing the disease, were invited to participate in the trial. Each participant was randomly assigned to receive a placebo (sugar pill) or one of two NSAIDs: naproxen sodium (Aleve) or celecoxib (Celebrex). Nationwide, 2528 people were enrolled in this study, with over 420 individuals participating locally at the BU ADC site.

In December 2004, the clinical trial was stopped because of an indication that NSAIDs can increase the risk of cardiovascular complications. At that time, all participants discontinued the use of the medications, including both types of NSAIDs and the placebo. However, the study continued and participants were monitored by study staff over the next several years. The results were discouraging at first. It seemed that NSAIDs had no impact on preventing AD. However, examination over a longer period of time eventually demonstrated that the use of NSAIDs, compared to the placebo, might decrease long-term risk of developing dementia. Additional follow-up of these ADAPT participants could provide information as to whether short-term use of NSAIDs can reduce the long-term possibility of developing AD.

As part of the federal economic stimulus package, the ADAPT study investigators have secured funding from the National Institute on Aging to continue researching whether prior treatment with NSAIDs might prevent or delay the onset of AD. The ADAPT Follow-up Study will begin soon, and BU ADC staff will recontact all of our ADAPT study participants to assess any changes that may have occurred in the last four years. The BU ADC is committed to researching possible prevention methods, and we look forward to participating in the ADAPT Follow-up Study. For more information on the ADAPT Follow-up Study, contact Patricia Johnson by phone (617-638-5430) or email (pattiej@bu.edu).

Heart Function as a Risk for Unhealthy Brain Aging

September 18th, 2009 in Uncategorized

Though much research in the field of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) emphasizes new, cutting-edge treatment efforts, another important research area is focused on disease prevention. Prevention first involves identifying risk factors for AD and then managing these risk factors to keep AD from developing among future older adults.

To date, many research studies have found that certain types of heart disease, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, may increase one’s risk for developing AD. One exciting new aspect of research being conducted at the Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center (BU ADC) is the examination of heart function as a possible risk factor for AD. The goal of this new study is to determine if minor abnormalities in heart function are related to an increased risk for developing AD among individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

mri-brain

White matter hyperintensities are an MRI sign of vascular changes in the brain.

Individuals with MCI experience mild impairments in memory and other cognitive or thinking abilities that are not normal for one’s age. Some research has suggested that individuals with MCI are at greater risk for developing AD than individuals without memory or thinking difficulties. However, individuals with MCI continue to live independently in the community and manage their day-to-day affairs without difficulty. Research focused on individuals with MCI may provide important information about risk factors for AD.

The Heart & Brain Aging study, conducted by Dr. Angela Jefferson, a BU ADC neuropsychologist, is investigating the association between heart function and brain aging in individuals with MCI. Funded by the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Institute on Aging, the research project includes a study visit at the Boston University Medical Campus in the South End of Boston. During the visit, participants provide a blood sample, participate in a medical history interview, and complete paper-and-pencil tests of memory and thinking abilities. Finally, participants undergo heart and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Dr. Jefferson and her collaborators plan to combine information from the multiple tests to better understand whether heart function plays a role in the development and progression of early symptoms of AD.

mri-heart

MRI image of the heart.

All participants in the Heart & Brain Aging study receive a copy of their blood test results, including information on cholesterol, blood sugar, and insulin levels. Participants also have the option of having their blood test results and electronic copies of their heart and brain MRI scans sent to their physician(s).

Currently, the Heart & Brain Aging study is recruiting individuals with a diagnosis of MCI. If you have been told by your doctor that you have mild cognitive impairment or MCI and you are interested in hearing more about the study, please contact the study coordinator, Ms. Amanda Gentile, by phone (617-414-1077) or email (amgent@bu.edu) to learn more about enrolling.

BU ADC Brain Bank is Featured in Local News

August 18th, 2009 in Uncategorized

Watch the Channel 5 news segment, “Take An Exclusive Look Inside The “Brain Bank.” The segment features the BU ADC Brain Bank at the Bedford VA and commentary by Dr. Ann McKee, Director of the BU ADC Neuropathology Core.

REVEAL Study featured on NBC Nightly News

July 16th, 2009 in Uncategorized

Dr. Robert Green, PI of the the REVEAL Study, speaks with NBC Nightly News about recent study results published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Read the original research article published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Honorary and Memorial Donations

March 17th, 2009 in Uncategorized

The Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center (BU ADC) is involved in a variety of clinical, research, and education activities. These activities are funded by grants awarded from the National Institutes of Health and non-profit organizations. Often, research study participants, families, or community members wish to contribute to the fight against AD, and these private donations are equally important to advancing the BU ADC’s mission. The BU ADC welcomes honorary or 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 Catherine Pfau at 888-458-2823 or visit us online at www.bu.edu/alzresearch if you would like to make a donation.

In Honor of Brandon Ally
Alzheimer’s Services of Cape Cod & the Islands

In Memory of Marie Bruno
Lisa and Anthony Bruzzese
Kathy Curley
Robert and Roberta Mulcahey
Gloria and John Pelose

In Memory of Benjamin Chinitz
Daniel and Libby Sands
Burt and Long Visnick

In Honor of Emedio Di Virgilio
Myrna and Barry Bernard

In Honor of Donna Eaton
Adele A. Madden for Phunky Pretty

In Memory of Helen Klein
Stephen Klein

In Memory of Kenneth Lumsden
Kristina Lumsden

In Memory of Don Rodman
Julie Crasafi

In Memory of Jeanne Rousseau
Roger and Palma Beauregard
Linda Goldstein
Mr. and Mrs. Jason Sears

In Memory of Azatui Seferian
Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Keikian
Manouk and Anahid Keushgerian
Pam Petropoulos
Christine Porcello
Srbui Seferian
Mary and Dave Waters

In Memory of Chet Sikorski
Olga Rakich

In Honor of Robert Green and Robert Stern
Janet Abrams

Reflections of Early-Onset Alzheimer's Disease (AD)

March 17th, 2009 in Uncategorized

Tom Rice, a former patient of Dr. Andrew Budson, Associate Director of Research at the BU ADC, wrote the following poem as a reflection of living with early-onset AD.

ARTIST

There it is
It strikes
Not bullet loud
Not arrow silent

More personal
Like a knife

How it hurts
As it steals my life

Now a hammer and chisel
Chips fly
This artist has control
This artist
Has no passion
No desire
To create

Chips
How they fly

BU ADC Happenings

March 17th, 2009 in Uncategorized

Welcome

The Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center (BU ADC) welcomes new staff member, Linda Snyder, MA, who will be coordinating the SAFE Drivers StudyWe also extend a warm welcome to our new student trainees: Jeff Brooks, a freshman at Tufts University who is working with the HOPE study; Vlada Doktor, a Master’s in Medical Sciences candidate at BU doing her thesis work with Dr. Robert Stern; Susan Lambe, MEd, a prior BU ADC staff member who is now a Clinical Psychology PhD candidate at UMass Boston and is currently working on multicultural outreach projects with the Education Core emphasizing racial disparities in Alzheimer’s disease (AD); Kathy Lou, a graduate of Tufts University who is working with the HOPE study; and Jessie Meyer, a recent graduate of Kenyon College who is assisting with the new Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy.

Congratulations

The BU ADC is pleased to announce the 2009-2010 Pilot Program Award recipients: Dr. Tiffany Mellott for a project entitled, “The effects of perinatal choline supplementation on AD models,Dr. Juliet Moncaster for a study entitled, “Evaluation of a Non-Invasive Early Detection Instrument for AD,” and Dr. Chantal Stern for a project entitled, “Imaging Studies in Presymptomatic Early-Onset Familial AD.

The BU ADC would like to congratulate Dr. Andrew Budson for his recent receipt of the Research Award in Geriatric Neurology at the 2009 American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting in Seattle, WA. Dr. Budson has also been promoted to Professor of Neurology at the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Associate Director of Research for the BU ADC. Dr. Robert Green recently participated as a guest speaker and panelist on personal genomics at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Dr. Green was also selected as a keynote speaker to present data from the REVEAL Study for a Symposium on the Integration of Genetic Healthcare Technologies. Dr. Angela Jefferson has recently been promoted to BUSM Associate Professor of Neurology and Medicine and Director of the Education & Information Transfer Core. Congratulations also to Dr. Anil Nair for his receipt of the Palatucci Leadership Award from American Academy of Neurology, his recent appointment as Chairman of the Certification Examination Committee in Geriatric Neurology, and his selection to the Board of Directors for the Massachusetts Neurology Association.

Goodbyes

Thank you and best wishes to our recent student trainees: Vanessa Holley, a BU School of Public Health student who did her public health practicum with the Education Core, is graduating; Lyndsay Root, a student trainee who worked with Dr. Brandon Gavett on the ecological validity of neuropsychological assessment, is continuing her coursework at Northeastern University; and Mari Stackpoole, a nurse practitioner student who worked with Eric Steinberg, Project Manager of the HOPE Study, is completing her coursework at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Institute of Health Professions. Best wishes to Kristen Huber, Education & Information Transfer Core Coordinator, who has taken a position at MGH.

Research Update

March 17th, 2009 in Uncategorized

Anti-Aging Genes and Potential Alzheimers Disease (AD) Treatments
At the 9th International Alzheimer’s Disease/Parkinson’s Disease (AD/PD) Conference in Prague, Czech Republic, Dr. Carmela Abraham chaired a session on “AD Treatment Targets” and delivered an oral presentation entitled, “Screening for anti-aging and anti-AD drugs.” Dr. Abraham described a high throughput screening for small molecules aimed at enhancing the expression of Klotho, a protective anti-aging gene. Dr. Abraham’s group has demonstrated Klotho to be significantly reduced in the aging brain and in the brains of amyloid-containing mouse models of AD. A second screening was done for inhibitors that would interfere with the formation of the toxic amyloid peptide.

Cellular Mechanisms of AD Pathology
Dr. Ben Wolozin also recently presented his work at the AD/PD Conference in Prague, Czech Republic, describing how the protein, LRRK2, stimulates formation of AD and PD pathology. He presented further developments relating to his observations on the protective effects of angiotensin receptor blocker for individuals with dementia.

Picture Memory in Mild AD
Dr. Brandon Ally’s work attempts to understand how memory breaks down in the earliest stages of AD. In a recent study published in Neuropsychologia using event-related potentials, Dr. Ally’s group showed that patients with very mild AD were able to rely on intact frontally-based cognitive processes, such as conceptual priming and memorial familiarity, to remember pictures but not words. These findings suggest a promising role in the development of interventions to help circumvent memory difficulties among patients with AD.

Recent Publication on Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy
The Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (BU CSTE) recently completed a study reviewing 47 neuropathologically verified cases of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Drs. Ann McKee and Robert Stern, Co-Directors of the BU CSTE, added 3 new cases, including one professional football player and two professional boxers. The study will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology.

Risk Evaluation and Education for AD
At the recent American College of Medical Genetics Meeting in Tampa, FL, Dr. Robert Green and colleagues presented data from the REVEAL Study showing that those with the risk-increasing apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 gene were significantly more likely to initiate nutritional supplements after learning their genetic results than ε4 negative participants. APOE ε4 positive individuals were also more likely to purchase long-term care insurance than ε4 negative individuals.

Actively Recruiting Studies

March 17th, 2009 in Uncategorized

Study Type
Study Title
Study Description
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 Alzheimers Disease (AD) Care
*new study
This one year study examines a new data 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 find 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
*new study
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
*new study
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 older 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 cognitive measures to better understand relations between heart and brain health among aging adults with mild memory loss. Participants attend a single study visit, and laboratory results are shared with the participant’s physicians.