Three UF researchers awarded Alzheimer’s Association grants

By Todd Taylor

Three University of Florida investigators have earned Alzheimer’s Association grants for scientists working on new ideas in research of the neurodegenerative disease. The researchers’ projects were selected based on their potential to generate exciting new data and strategies.

Lakiesha Williams
Dr. Williams

Assessing the role of the APOE genotype in traumatic brain injury (TBI)

Lakiesha N. Williams, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical engineering

Under a $150,000 grant, Williams’ project is aimed at providing insights into the role of a genotype called apolipoprotein E, or APOE, in tau pathology related to advanced age, traumatic brain injury and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

“We know that APOE is a major risk factor of Alzheimer’s disease dementia and it has also been identified as a potential factor in TBI outcomes. We will explore APOE’s impact on the spread of tau pathology leading to abnormal brain activity,” Williams said.

Valerie Joers
Dr. Joers

The role of cannabinoid receptor 2 in the clearance of tau by microglia

Valerie Joers, Ph.D., research assistant professor of neuroscience

Under a $149,000 grant, Joers’ project will evaluate receptors called microglial cannabinoid type 2, or CB2, in brain slice cultures of mouse models as a potential therapeutic target against tau pathologies such as those found in Alzheimer’s disease.

“The levels of CB2 receptors are increased in a brain with Alzheimer’s pathology, but the exact role between the two is not clear, especially in the context of tau,” Joers said.

Ben Chapin
Dr. Chapin

Visual attention and postoperative delirium

Benjamin Chapin, M.D., cognitive neurologist and Perioperative Cognitive Anesthesia Network fellow, supported through the Integrative & Multidisciplinary Pain and Aging Research Training T32

Under a $175,000 grant, Chapin will examine how preoperative measures of visual attention predict postoperative delirium in 160 older adults undergoing total knee or hip surgery with planned inpatient admission. Disorders of visual attention are often seen in patients with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

“We hope our findings will improve options for preoperative therapies to decrease delirium risk for individuals with neurodegenerative disorders,” Chapin said.