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Katrina Walsemann Awarded $1.9 Million for Alzheimer's, Related Dementias Research

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A collaboration between the University of Maryland (UMD), Georgetown and the University of Wisconsin has been awarded approximately $1.9 million from the National Institute of Aging (NIA) to establish an interdisciplinary network of scholars who can advance Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) science and research.

As part of the grant, Katrina Walsemann, Roger C. Lipitz Chair in Health Policy and professor at UMD’s School of Public Policy, Pamela Herd, professor at Georgetown, and Sanjay Asthana, professor at University of Wisconsin, will bring new, emerging and established ADRD scientists together to tackle the complex questions of ADRD. They aim to offer pilot funding, grant writing workshops and training, small group mentoring and more to the network, as well as convene an annual meeting to bring together these scientists to share their research.

“This is particularly important for scientists who are at universities or colleges that may not have seed funding or a large presence of population health or dementia scientists to facilitate their integration into the field,” said Walsemann.

One of the most important determinants of ADRD is educational attainment - for those aged 80 and older, the risk of dementia is three times lower for those with a college degree compared to those without a high school degree. Yet, there’s still a lack of understanding as to why education appears to be so protective. Walsemann, Herd and Asthana hope that by bringing together a network of scholars, they can begin to understand both this link between education and ADRD and how to delay ADRD onset.

Walsemann, Herd and Asthana aim to recruit scientists with expertise in education, racial and ethnic health disparities, as well as those already engaged in dementia research, but who have not yet focused on educational disparities. They also hope to share the network’s findings with the broader scientific community through their website and social media accounts.

“Dementia is a complex disease, and we need to create teams across disciplinary fields to advance our understanding of the role of education for shaping dementia risk,” said Walsemann. “We need their expertise to develop effective strategies for reducing dementia risk, delaying onset, and improving the lives of people living with dementia.”

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