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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Florida Researchers Awarded Grants to Tackle Alzheimer’s Disease

University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions faculty members Dr. Dawn Bowers and Dr. Linda Cottler are among four UF researchers to receive Ed and Ethel Moore Alzheimer’s Disease Research Program grants from the Florida Department of Health. Together, they have been awarded almost $850,000 to better understand the cause of Alzheimer’s disease, develop new treatments and improve participation in clinical trials.

FL Alzheimers researchers
[Photo: Grant recipients include Dr. Ann Horgas, Dr. Meredith Wicklund, Dr. Dawn Bowers and Dr. Linda Cottler]

To treat people with mild cognitive impairment, Dr. Bowers, a professor in the PHHP department of clinical and health psychology, will research the effectiveness of a novel, innovative therapy.

The study will evaluate if red and near-infrared light stimulation can help treat memory problems in patients with early signs of dementia. This type of stimulation improves the function of mitochondria — the organelles within the cell that produce energy — by promoting increased metabolism and blood flow and by increasing the ability of genes to process oxidative stress. Recent studies using this technique have found a reduction in the plaques and tangles in mice expected to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers hope the technique could help improve cognitive function for those with Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Cottler, chair of the department of epidemiology in the College of Public Health and Health Professions and the College of Medicine and PHHP’s associate dean for research, will lead a project to ensure people with Alzheimer’s are included in medical research and outreach programs. Her goal is to connect people with early memory impairment to UF HealthStreet, a program she created that connects Floridians to research opportunities.

The grant will allow HealthStreet’s community-engagement model to be expanded to 17 Florida counties where Alzheimer’s mortality rates are highest. Because older adults are often underrepresented in research, HealthStreet will make research opportunities more accessible and available for them.

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