Las Vegas: Jessica Caldwell, Ph.D., director of The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement Prevention Center at Cleveland Clinic, has been awarded a grant expected to total $1.8 million from the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the interactive effects of gender and sex on biological processes in Alzheimer’s disease.
The four-year grant will examine how gender-linked stress exposure and estrogen may interact to impact memory, inflammation in the body, and brain activation and connectivity in women at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
“We know that gender and sex, indexed by stress exposures and estrogen, promote changes in the brain, which may facilitate Alzheimer’s pathology in women at risk for the disease,” said Dr. Caldwell. “This project is an opportunity to better understand these mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease risk and how we might implement the appropriate risk reduction approaches to benefit women.”
Dr. Caldwell anticipates data from this study will provide evidence linking greater lifetime gender-based stressor exposures to poorer verbal memory in women at risk for Alzheimer’s, as well as processes likely to contribute to sex and gender disparities in the disease. She hopes that findings will help to inform development of interventions targeting stress and inflammation to reduce Alzheimer’s risk.
The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement has helped fund Dr. Caldwell’s sex-based research since 2016, providing the seed money to build the data infrastructure to apply for this grant, as well as to establish The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement Prevention Center at Cleveland Clinic – the nation’s first prevention center designed specifically for women located inside the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“Alzheimer’s research, particularly studies examining the role of a woman’s biology, genetic make-up and lifestyle in developing the disease, is critical in helping us understand why women are at the epicenter of this epidemic,” said Maria Shriver, founder of the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement and the visionary behind The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement Prevention Center.
“We’ve only scratched the surface on investigating these connections, and more funding is needed to advance the effort,” continued Shriver. “This award from the NIH is a true testament to the importance of investing in clinical research, as it will position us one step closer to understanding the myriad gender-specific factors that contribute to Alzheimer’s and why the disease discriminates against women, especially women of color.”
Since opening its doors in summer 2020, The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement Prevention Center at Cleveland Clinic has welcomed women from 40 states across the country and received honorable mention in Fast Company’s list of 2021 World Changing Ideas.
This project is supported by NIH grant award 1R01AG074392-01.
B-roll is available here.