The mentoring relationship between two University of Arizona faculty members is advancing research for patients with brain damage at any stage in life. One of those research leaders, Dr. Roberta Brinton, founding director of the UArizona Center for Innovation in Brain Science and BIO5 member, has discovered that regenerative therapeutics may help pediatric and aging populations. This research out of UArizona Health Sciences may help both premature babies and patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Roberta Brinton, the director of the Center for Innovation in Brain Science at the University of Arizona and BIO5 member discovered the disparities in how women are more likely to develop brain diseases and autoimmune conditions such as Alzheimer's and Multiple Sclerosis.
Dr. Joanna Masel professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona and BIO5 member uses mathematical models to better understand evolutionary consequences in biochemistry, genetics, cellular biology, physiology, and ecology.
By 2034, U.S. Census data show that the number of Americans age 65 and older will for the first time outnumber those under 18. By 2050, there will be an estimated 2.1 billion people in the world age 65 and older.
Emily Merritt, who is pursuing a doctorate in immunobiology, was one of the first students to participate in the Infection and Inflammation as Drivers of Aging, a program funded by a National Institutes of Health T32 training grant, which supports four graduate or post-doctoral students annually. She and four other students presented their research virtually at the inaugural Infection and Inflammation as Drivers of Aging symposium in January. The research topics ranged from chronic inflammatory response to ischemic stroke and tracking antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in aging individuals. Merritt presented on Toxoplasma gondii, a single-celled parasite she studies under the guidance of Dr. Anita Koshy, professor of neurology and BIO5 member.
In the College of Medicine – Tucson’s Department of Immunobiology, Department Head and Professor Dr. Janko Nikolich-Žugich, and Associate Professor Dr. Deepta Bhattacharya, PhD, both members of the BIO5 Institute, were well-prepared to study SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, and gave us head start in the development of one of the most accurate COVID-19 antibody tests in the country. When the inflammation response goes awry, especially as people age, many chronic diseases associated with aging are then made worse by chronic inflammation. Unique research focus on immunity, inflammation and aging is a UArizona Health Sciences strategic initiative being led by Dr. Nikolich-Žugich and an advisory team consisting of researchers including BIO5 faculty, Drs. Felicia Goodrum and Michael Johnson.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a neurodegenerative disorder that affects an estimated 5.8 million Americans, disproportionately affects women. The Women's Alzheimer's Movement (WAM), a nonprofit founded by Maria Shriver, is at the forefront in taking action to help find solutions to the disease. $500,000 in grant funding for women-based Alzheimer’s disease research to many researchers including Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton, University of Arizona Center for Innovation in Brain Science director and BIO5 member, who is using her grant to study Type 2 diabetes therapies and associated risks of Alzheimer’s in women.
A UArizona Health Sciences research project called Saguaro Study, is designed to identify issues unique to University employees who are at least 50 years old and then test ways to help address or mitigate those concerns among the 5,700 employees in that age group. The team led by BIO5 member and chair of the Department Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the College of Public Health Dr. Zhao Chen, are examining the balance of keep stress in check during the pandemic, while also maintaining physical activity and retaining social connections.
Dr. Purnima Madhivanan, UArizona Zuckerman College of Public Health associate professor and BIO5 member, will lead a National Institute on Aging funded study on the effects of Senior Yoga practice on health among elderly populations in low-income communities. Her research seeks to adapt an evidence-based yoga lifestyle program for primary care settings in India, and implement it in the future with local populations in Tucson
University of Arizona Health Sciences researchers are moving closer to conducting clinical trials on what would be the first therapeutic drug for vascular cognitive impairment and dementia (VCID), the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. Research by Meredith Hay, PhD, a UArizona professor of physiology, and member of the BIO5 Institute and the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, may offer a remedy for vascular dementia. To date, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved any drugs that specifically treat vascular dementia, which involves cognitive impairment caused by injuries – often stroke related – to the vessels supplying blood to the brain.
Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton, director of UArizona Center for Innovation in Brain Science and BIO5 member, is testing whether a drug called allopregnanolone is a safe and effective way to restore cognitive function in Alzheimer's patients. If the results are good, she’ll be one step closer to bringing the world’s first regenerative therapeutic for Alzheimer’s to the millions of people living with the disease.
Scientists at the University of Arizona BIO5 Institute are looking deeper into the connection between Alzheimer's disease and Down syndrome, developing technology that will give researchers clues to the exact relationship between a pair of proteins shared by the two conditions. UArizona biochemistry professor Dr. Wolfgang Peti thinks it could lead to a better understanding and treatment of several neurological disorders. With fellow UArizona biochemistry professor Dr. Rebecca Page, together they collaborated with a team of researchers investigating the proteins Calcineurin and RCAN1 with the aim to use their findings to develop drugs and other treatment options.
COVID-19 has presented many challenges for universities as they assess the risks of reopening for the health of older faculty and staff. Dr. Zhao Chen, UArizona Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics chair and BIO5 member, will lead an internal study to assess risk perception, risk mitigation strategies, and overall wellness for UArizona employees aged 50+ during the reopening process.