$3 Million NIA Grant Awarded to SBCoA to Create Multicenter Alzheimer's Database
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 22, 2011) — University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging (SBCoA) researchers, led by co-principal investigators Richard Kryscio and Frederick Schmitt, have been awarded a grant of more than $3 million from the National Institute on Aging, to identify risk factors for multiple forms of autopsy-confirmed dementia.
Kryscio, who also serves as chair of the Department of Biostatistics in the UK College of Public Health, and Schmitt, who serves as a professor in the Department of Neurology in the UK College of Medicine, will collaborate with fellow SBCoA investigators Erin Abner, David Fardo, Greg Jicha, Peter Nelson, and Stephen Scheff to conduct a large-scale study that will merge data from seven existing databases.
In diseases like Alzheimer's, there is a continuum of illness that ranges from asymptomatic (normal cognition) to full dementia. The aim of the project will be to study large data sets collected over many years by Alzheimer's Disease Centers and population-based research projects around the country. Each included project has its own set of longitudinal data on individuals who have transitioned from normal cognition, through mild cognitive impairment, and into dementia. Many of these individuals died and came to autopsy, the gold standard in the diagnosis of most forms of dementia. Merging these data will allow rigorous, statistical, and biologically-informed analyses.
The project will draw on the expertise of a neuroepidemiologist (Suzanne Tyas, University of Waterloo), and the study data will be drawn from seven projects: BRAiNS (University of Kentucky SBCoA), the Nun Study (University of Minnesota, Kelvin Limm and Laura Hemmy P.I.), the Memory and Aging Project (Washington University; Chengjie Xiong, P.I.), the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study (Kuakini Medical Center Hospital; Lon White, P.I.), the Religious Orders Study (Rush Medical University; Lei Yu and David Bennett, P.I.), Oregon Brain Aging Study and others (Oregon Health and Science University; Jeffrey Kaye and Hiroko Dodge, P.I.), and the Einstein Aging Study (Einstein Medical College, Richard Lipton, P.I.).
Once the data are assembled into one overarching database, Kryscio, Schmitt, and their team will identify appropriate intervening states between normal cognition and dementia based on periodic assessments of cognition and functional skills from data collected at the involved centers. A focus will be on transitions into rare and mixed dementias, which has previously been impossible due to the small number of cases seen within individual studies. Ultimately, the standardization and subsequent analysis of data across studies could reveal new ways of understanding mixed forms of dementia, and may provide clinicians with new diagnostic criteria to use when working with patients who have either dementia or preclinical dementia conditions.
“This grant application by Drs. Kryscio and Schmitt received an amazing, perfect score from the review panel, which emphasizes the highly significant and innovative nature of this project,” said Linda Van Eldik, director of the SBCoA and the Alzheimer’s Disease Center at UK.