Research seeks to identify life experiences linked to Alzheimer's disease risk

Dr. Sanjay Asthana

Sanjay Asthana, MD (pictured above), professor and head, Geriatrics and Gerontology and associate dean for Geriatrics, has been appointed as principal investigator of proposal entitled, "Wisconsin Longitudinal Study - Initial Lifetime's Impact on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias (WLS-ILIAD Study)" which is receiving $13.5M over 5 years (R01 award) from the National Institutes of Health-National Institute on Aging.

The WLS-ILIAD Study seeks to help "clarify biological and behavioral processes that operate across the life course to influence dementia risk," according to researchers.

The study involves volunteers who have enrolled in the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, which involves 10,317 men and women who graduated from Wisconsin high schools in 1957.

Alzheimer's disease researchers will track the incidence, impact, and progression of dementia among cohort members to identify factors occurring in early life that are linked to risk of Alzheimer's disease in later life.

Of particular interest are variables such as level of formal educational attainment, socioeconomic disadvantage in childhood, tobacco use, maintaining a healthy weight, and engaging in exercise. Researchers will also focus on identifying behaviors in adulthood that can offset risk.

Dr. Asthana holds the Duncan G. and Lottie H. Ballantine Chair in Geriatrics. Pamela Herd, PhD, professor, Georgetown University, is co-principal investigator.