Researching Ways to Make Memories Last a Lifetime
UCI MIND seeks to enhance the quality of life for the elderly by researching factors and lifestyle approaches that promote successful brain aging. Toward this end, the Institute facilitates and coordinates a number of activities, some of which are listed below:
- Recruit participants to maintain a research cohort of individuals who have a Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), mild Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or other dementia or Down syndrome, or are cognitively normal.
- Follow patients long-term to evaluate their clinical and neuropsychological health.
- Provide investigators with biological resources such as human brain tissue, serum, DNA and cerebrospinal fluid from well-characterized clinical subjects.
- Partner with community-based organizations serving individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia and transmit new information to community professionals and the general public.
- Sponsor seminars and meetings to promote scholarship and information exchange.
- Pursue resource development to stimulate research through individual and collaborative grants.
- Train and educate the next generation of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the field of brain aging and neurodegeneration.
- Develop and maintain common facilities.
- Develop a base of community supporters to facilitate fundraising.
- Support interdisciplinary, investigator-initiated research and recruit and train the next generation of investigators.
The Institute continues to develop new major resources to help us achieve our goals. Our successes include:
- Designation as an Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), including 5 years of financial support, which provides the means to diagnose and longitudinally follow individuals with MCI and Alzheimer’s or another dementia, and to recruit them for a variety of research studies designed to advance our knowledge about memory and aging.
- Designation as a California Alzheimer’s Disease Center (CADC), funded through the State Department of Public Health.
- Continued funding of a training grant for pre- and postdoctoral students, providing support for the next generation of scientists.
- Renewal of a program project grant by Institute faculty, allowing investigators to work collaboratively in identifying factors that promote the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Ongoing research investigating the successful aging process in individuals 90+, the oldest old.
- Creating the first transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease that develops both plaques and tangles, and widely distributing this model throughout the world.
- Achieving recognition as a high-ranking national site for conducting clinical trials.
Understanding the basic mechanisms of brain aging while developing effective treatments for neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease is of local and national importance. People over 65 years old are the fastest growing segment of the American population. Today, this cohort comprises 13 percent of the population, although it is expected that the percentage of people over 65 will increase to 20 percent of the population, or over 54 million individuals, by the year 2020. Maintaining cognitive function is vitally important to the quality of life for seniors. With age, however, the odds of developing dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease in particular, increase markedly. Dementia affects roughly 12 percent of 65-74 year-olds and alarmingly up to 47% of people older than 85.
Orange County is one of the fastest growing national metropolitan sites today and has more than 75,000 individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or a high risk for developing it. The county’s older adult population is expected to nearly double in the next 20 years. And, by 2030, 63% of the area’s population is expected to be non-Caucasian. The diagnosis, management and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are major challenges permeating all levels of social and economic status in a diversity of cultures. The community looks to the University and the Institute for leadership, and in turn the Institute seeks to provide scholarly education and discoveries to a populace severely impacted by the disease. The Institute is well positioned to meet emerging research needs in the field and to translate these findings to relevant clinical practice in the local community.