UC Davis Health gets $8.8M from state to study Alzheimer’s

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Obituaries - BY CATHIE AN­DER­SON can­der­[email protected]

Lead­ers of UC Davis Health an­nounced Thurs­day that the state of Cal­i­for­nia has awarded its sci­en­tists and clin­i­cians $8.8 mil­lion – or al­most 42 per­cent – of a $21 mil­lion pack­age ear­marked for the study of Alzheimer’s disease.

UCD’s team plans to use the fund­ing to study the role that racial dis­par­i­ties, di­a­betes, diet and in­fec­tion can play in the disease, said Charles DeCarli, a pro­fes­sor in the UCD Med­i­cal School’s neu­rol­ogy depart­ment and the di­rec­tor of the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Cen­ter.

“As our pop­u­la­tion ages, dev­as­tat­ing dis­or­ders such as Alzheimer’s disease and other causes of de­men­tia are in­creas­ingly com­mon,” DeCarli said. “Not only do these dis­eases have se­vere con­se­quences for those af­fected, but they have sub­stan­tial added bur­den to their care­givers.”

David K. John­son, di­rec­tor of the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Cen­ter in the East Bay, re­ceived the largest of the grants: $4.9 mil­lion. He said he will use it to ad­dress what he de­scribes as an epi­demic among older African Amer­i­cans who are at the great­est risk for cog­ni­tive de­cline and de­vel­op­ment of Alzheimer’s disease.

As The Bee re­ported in mid-March, UC Davis re­searchers pub­lished a study they had done of brain tis­sue from 423 Amer­i­cans of Latino, African and non-His­panic white de­scent. It showed star­tling vari­a­tions in the causes of de­men­tia by race and eth­nic­ity.

Among blacks whose brains were stud­ied, 37



David K. John­son, di­rec­tor of the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Cen­ter in the East Bay

per­cent of them had mark­ers for both Alzheimer’s disease and cere­brovas­cu­lar-re­lated de­men­tia, 43 per­cent had pure Alzheimer’s disease, and 11 per­cent showed signs of only cere­brovas­cu­lar-re­lated dam­age. Sci­en­tists are see­ing that many cases of de­men­tia are linked to vas­cu­lar dam­age, a risk can may be re­duce with changes in life­style, di­etary habits and early di­ag­no­sis and mon­i­tor­ing of hy­per­ten­sion and type 2 di­a­betes.

John­son said the grant will help ex­pand the clin­i­cal ser­vices of the East Bay cen­ter to in­clude de­liv­ery and test­ing of a life­style in­ter­ven­tion – diet, ex­er­cise and a com­bi­na­tion of both – to treat older adults with strong risk fac­tors for type 2 di­a­betes and associated cog­ni­tive de­cline.

“We are look­ing at fit­ness vs. diet and see­ing if one is bet­ter than the other for spe­cific peo­ple,” he said. “There are rea­sons to think that blacks and whites might re­spond dif­fer­ently to the dif­fer­ent parts of the di­a­betes pro­gram. Find­ing the an­swers would al­low us to tai­lor in­ter­ven­tions to meet the spe­cific needs of our pa­tients bet­ter.”

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