ANN ARBOR—Kenneth Langa, an expert on chronic disease in older adults and professor at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, has been chosen to help guide research education at the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center.
The center is a partnership between between U-M, Michigan State University and Wayne State University, and is funded by a five-year, $9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Aside from conducting research to help develop effective treatments for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, a major goal of the ADCC is to help researchers at the beginning of their careers and train the next generation of scientists.
In Langa’s new role as research education core co-investigator, he will help develop research education curriculum for the ADCC’s Research Education Component and mentor junior investigators researching the epidemiology of Alzheimer’s disease.
Langa is a professor at the ISR and associate director for ISR’s Health and Retirement Study, a large-scale survey of a U.S. adults ages 50 and older. He also is a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, a research scientist in the Veterans Affairs Center for Clinical Management Research and associate director of the Institute of Gerontology, all at U-M. Recently, Langa received a Distinguished Research Mentorship Award in recognition of his contributions to training junior faculty. He has looked closely at Alzheimer’s disease as part of his research on risk factors and outcomes for chronic disease in older adults.
“I am looking forward to expanding collaborations with colleagues from across schools and disciplines here at U-M, and with our colleagues at Wayne State and MSU, to help train the next generation of dementia researchers,” Langa said. “This is an exciting time in Alzheimer’s and dementia research, as NIH funding levels are increasing in response to the growing realization of the huge impact that dementia has on patients, families, and public programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. This makes the work of the new Alzheimer’s center especially timely and important.”
While much of the current Alzheimer’s research focuses on the built-up of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain, the ADCC will focus on non-myloid factors that contribute to the disease, according to Henry Paulson, a U-M neurologist and director of the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center, who will also serve as the ADCC’s director.
An estimated 5 million Americans age 65 and older have Alzheimer’s disease, a number that is expected to nearly triple by 2050 without the development of preventative treatments or a cure, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.