NSU Researchers Receive Grants to Continue Study into Brain Injury and Alzheimer’s Disease

FORT LAUDERDALE/DAVIE, FL. – Researchers at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) have recently been awarded two National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants to investigate risk factors and treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Lisa S. Robison, Ph.D. and William R. Kochen, Ph.D. from NSU’s College of Psychology and Benedict C. Albensi, Ph.D. from NSU’s Barry and Judy Silverman College of Pharmacy received the NIH grants:

  • Sex-based differences of a high fat diet in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) – this research is 100% supported by National Institutes of Health (NIH) award R16NS134540, in the amount of $616,000.
  • Effects of mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a mouse model of cerebralamyloid angiopathy (CAA) – this research is 100% supported by National Institutes of Health (NIH) award 1R03AG081865-01, in the amount of $308,000.

“Two-thirds of those with Alzheimer’s disease are women, and no one knows why,” said Dr. Albensi. “We know that, generally, women live longer than men, but increased longevity alone does not explain these higher rates in women.”

These two NIH-funded projects will examine potential causative agents for AD in general, and in women in particular.

Albensi said that risk factors, such as poor nutrition, increase the risk for AD several fold. The project he leads will explore the effects of high fat diet and resulting obesity and diabetes to determine how they might further exacerbate the pathology seen in Alzheimer’s disease. Therapeutic treatments will be tested to see if sex-based differences exist under these conditions.

“Brain injury, such as those commonly sustained during participation in contact sports, military service, and as a result of domestic abuse, is another known risk factor for dementia,” said Dr. Robison.  “We still need more information about how even mild brain injuries significantly increase dementia risk so that we can intervene effectively.”

The project she leads investigates damage to the brain’s blood vessels by toxic proteins (cerebral amyloid angiopathy) as a potential link between the two conditions.

Albensi said that the team believes the results will likely lead to more effective and personalized preventative measures and drug treatments that take sex into account more critically.