FAU Medicine Ushers in New Research Phase to Prevent Dementia
By 2050, approximately 16 million Americans and 60 million people worldwide will be affected by Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and related disorders (ADRD), which include Lewy Body Dementia (LBD), Parkinson’s disease, vascular dementia and frontotemporal degeneration. In Florida alone, individuals diagnosed with AD is expected to increase by 40 percent in the next 15 years. These alarming projections highlight the urgent need to employ a multifaceted and personalized approach that targets prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of dementia.
Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine and The Harry T. Mangurian, Jr. Foundation have joined forces again to usher in a new phase of research to prevent dementia. Through the extension of a three-year, $3 million grant from the Foundation’s ADRD Medical Research Fund, FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine will launch the new FAU Center for Brain Health within its FAU Medicine Primary Care Practice. The grant supports precision medicine approaches to prevent dementia, which will be further strengthened by leveraging multiple patient-centered platforms through state-of-the-art transdisciplinary approaches.
“We are excited to continue our support of FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine as they work toward their bold vision of reducing the prevalence of dementia through a collaborative team-science approach that spans the bedside-to-bench continuum,” said Stephen G. Mehallis, president of the Harry T. Mangurian, Jr. Foundation. “Together, we will create powerful synergies that will catalyze new breakthroughs in treating and ultimately preventing Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy Body Dementia and other dementias.”
Leading the initiative is Janet Robishaw, Ph.D., a renowned scientist in functional and translational genomics, senior associate dean for research and chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences in FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine, and a member of the FAU Brain Institute (I-BRAIN). Robishaw has been working at the forefront of precision medicine for more than a decade. She will oversee the new FAU Center for Brain Health research team to leverage resources and collaborations to increase research, shorten the time for meaningful study results and enhance research impact by including multiple sites and diverse patient populations.
Funding from The Harry T. Mangurian, Jr. Foundation grant will enable Robishaw to secure research equipment, key personnel, and other related costs necessary to ensure the successful launch of the new FAU Center for Brain Health. The project will utilize precision-medicine approaches to characterize individuals with ADRD with the goal of stratifying and developing individualized treatment plans. The funding will also support the recruitment of a leading clinician scientist with expertise in personalized approaches to preventing and treating the full spectrum of dementias. This individual will work collaboratively with Robishaw and other FAU scientists who are dedicated to research in this field.
“The Schmidt College of Medicine is deeply committed to reducing the toll of Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias in Florida and beyond,” said Phillip Boiselle, M.D., dean of FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine. “With support from The Harry T. Mangurian, Jr. Foundation, we will accelerate our research efforts by emboldening our talented cadre of researchers, recruiting additional world-class clinicians and scientists, and leveraging transdisciplinary approaches in the battle against dementia.”
Robishaw and the FAU Center for Brain Health team will continue to support, share, and disseminate new knowledge to communities and beyond by administering pilot grants, hosting national meetings, and developing state-of-the-art curricular materials. FAU and its team of funded researchers in ADRD will continue to serve as a vital hub for advancing science and education in the prevention and treatment of dementia.
“There are a number of distinct health factors that place people at greater risk of developing neuro-degenerative diseases including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, low muscle mass, poor diet and exercise as well as decreases in mental activities and social engagement,” said Terry Adirim, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., senior associate dean for clinical affairs, chair of the Department of Integrated Medical Science, and a professor in FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine, who will oversee the clinical team at the FAU Center for Brain Health. “An estimated 40 to 50 million Americans have one or more of these risk factors. Our FAU Medicine team will employ innovative interventions and a multimodal and personalized approach to address and treat the root causes of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.”
By age 85, there is a 42 percent risk of an individual developing AD and related disorders. Nationally, if the onset of AD and related disorders is delayed by five years, 25 years later there would be approximately 5.7 million fewer cases, family savings would approach $87 billion, and social savings would approach $367 billion.
The Harry T. Mangurian, Jr. Foundation was established by the late Harry and Dorothy Mangurian to provide support to medical, educational and environmental organizations, nationally and internationally. The Mangurians resided in both Ocala and Fort Lauderdale, from where Harry managed his various business interests including real estate development, furniture retailing, professional sports (including ownership of the NBA’s Boston Celtics) as well as Mockingbird Farm, which became a world-renowned thoroughbred racing and breeding operation. Dorothy passed away in 2015 after a long battle with Lewy Body Dementia.