A long-running research study of dementia onset in older adults, led by the University of Washington, Kaiser Permanente Washington, and the University of California San Diego, has been awarded an estimated $55.6 million grant by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This award is more than three times the study’s current funding level.
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According to UW Medicine and Kaiser Permanente, the new funds granted to the Seattle-based Adult Changes in Thought (ATC) Study will be used to “…advance the understanding of Alzheimer’s and diversify and broaden participation in the study.” The study has made significant accomplishments in Alzheimer’s research in the past, with key findings that linked certain medications to a higher risk of developing the condition, as well as lifestyle choices that lower the risk.
The new 5-year grant will grow research personnel to 41 investigators at 10 institutions across the United States and Canada. These researchers track participants of the study as they age to find out which ones maintain healthy brain function and which ones develop the condition.
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute says, study personnel will use “the latest tools to analyze brain structure changes, to measure neuronal responses to a variety of drugs, and to evaluate cognitive and physical functioning.” The grant will help drive research efforts to develop more effective treatments, as well as preventative measures against the disease.
Additionally, the grant will allow data from the ACT to be more accessible and easily shared among researchers worldwide, allowing the study to further serve as a shared repository for data on aging adults.
The new funding will also expand the existing study group of 2,000 members to 3,000, with emphasis on enrolling a more diverse population in the study.
Under the award, researchers will pursue three distinct research initiatives. The first one will examine relationships between physical activity and sleep with brain aging and dementia. The second one will identify subtypes of Alzheimer’s to discern differences in brain imaging and neuropathology findings, as well as patient experiences. The third one will examine the effects of commonly-used drugs and their influence on the risk of Alzheimer’s onset.
Dr. Paul Crane, co-principal investigator at the ACT and professor of medicine at the UW School of Medicine, began working on ACT as a research fellow nearly 20 years ago. In the KPW Health Research Institute news release, he stated:
“It is a privilege to work with this terrific team on important questions around aging and dementia. This next chapter of the ACT study builds on the tremendous generosity of our participants and the hard work of so many to pull together this proposal.”