BRONX, N.Y., Dec. 1, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Institutes of Health has awarded researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Pennsylvania State University a five-year, $12.2 million grant to continue studies on the aging brain, Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease—a number that is expected to double by 2040 as baby boomers age.
Scientists at the Einstein Aging Study will conduct the research in collaboration with experts at Pennsylvania State University. Their studies will enroll seniors who will be equipped with smartphones on which they'll answer questions testing their thinking ability—an effort to measure the cognitive changes that precede the onset of dementia. "We will also look at those risk factors for cognitive decline that can be corrected, including stress, pain, vascular disease and poor sleep," says Richard B. Lipton, M.D., co-principal investigator on the grant and the Edwin S. Lowe Chair in Neurology at Einstein, professor and vice chair of neurology at Einstein and Montefiore. "By linking specific risk factors to cognitive decline in the study participants, we hope to develop personalized interventions that will prevent the onset of Alzheimer's dementia." "Alzheimer's disease is usually diagnosed after many years of cognitive decline," says Martin J. Sliwinski, Ph.D., professor of human development and family studies at Penn State University, director of the Penn State Center for Healthy Aging and co-principal investigator on the grant. "The subtle changes in the brain and in cognition during pre-Alzheimer's are not well understood and can be difficult to track using typical one-time, in-person cognitive evaluations - 'snapshots' that can yield misleading results." The researchers say accurate data from their study will provide insight into the natural progression of the disease, shed light on the variability between individuals and help evaluate treatment effectiveness.