Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2023: Day Four & Five Highlights

The Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) is the largest and most influential international meeting dedicated to advancing dementia science. Each year, AAIC convenes the world’s leading basic science and clinical researchers, next-generation investigators, clinicians and the care research community to share research discoveries that’ll lead to methods of prevention and treatment and improvements in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Access highlights from other days here.

Florida Researcher Spotlight

Omar Garcia Rodriguez, from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine presented, Impact of sex, age, and ancestry on Apolipoprotein E-APOE- risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

How does your research impact those those at risk for Alzheimer’s? Currently, I am working on a research project titled:  Impact of sex, age and ancestry on Apolipoprotein E (APOE) risk for Alzheimer’s disease. We are aiming to associate Alzheimer’s with APOE by global and local ancestry, age and sex. If our findings are confirmed, we could develop targeted interventions in underserved populations and at-risk individuals. Also, we are working on creating a sex-specific trans-ancestry PRS (polygenic risk score). As with the first project, these PRSs will help to screen people early and timely treat underserved populations and at-risk subjects

What made you want to get into dementia research? I decided to get into dementia research because I wanted to do human genetic research in Miami.  As a researcher, I mostly focus my investigations on health disparities and inequities in underserved populations such as the Hispanics in the U.S. One of my core values is trying to reduce the existing gaps in health outcomes in several minorities.

What gives you hope? What gives me hope is the future generation who are willing to take risks and see the world from a different standpoint. They will be the ones who will come up with different innovative solutions not only for chronic diseases such as dementia but for infectious and mental diseases, as well as trauma. 

Dr. Rosemary Laird is a geriatrician in Florida and has spent many years caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease and supporting their family caregivers. She co-founded Navigating Aging Needs (NAN) that provides virtual support for family caregivers. They presented Early Results of a Pilot Program Providing Virtual Support to Family Caregivers of People with Alzheimer’s Disease to Reduce Their Stress and the Risk of Complications for Their Loved Ones at AAIC in Amsterdam.

For the pilot program, NAN provided 12 month subscriptions to family caregivers of individuals living with Alzheimer’s in Broward County. “It’s been wonderful to see the impact that this program is making. We’re seeing reductions in complications for the loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease, including fewer falls and hospitalizations along with lower levels of depression and anxiety. And despite all of those challenges, caregiver stress levels are holding steady,” said Dr. Laird about the program. The study was completed in partnership with the Florida Department of Elder Affairs.

Dr. Aaron Colverson, from The University of Florida presented, Learning and performance of syncopated rhythms predicts executive functioning in healthy aging adults.

How does your research impact someone living with Alzheimer’s and/or their caregiver? My collaborators and I’s past research sheds light on the implications for uses of familiar music to positively impact mood and social engagement between persons living with dementia and their caregivers. This research was published in Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, providing a model to better understand the relationships between how preserved musical memory in the minds of persons living with dementia can positively impact their and their caregivers’ quality of life. 

What made you want to get into dementia research? In October of 2016, my father passed away from complications with fronto-temporal dementia. The journey leading up to his diagnosis through his transition to hospice inspired me to learn about dementia care research and practice. Specifically, his love for the Rolling Stones and the Dire Straits, how these musical groups reflected aspects of his identity and self-expression placed a desire in my heart to better understand why music meant so much to him.

What gives you hope? Music, or musicking (doing music), is a powerful form of connection across all human cultures. Human connection lifts spirits, lightens moods, and improves communication. Those of us researching music and dementia believe in this power to facilitate connection between persons living with dementia and their caregivers. What gives me hope is continuing to understand the dimensions of ways in which musicking brings joy to persons living with dementia and how that joy is felt by caregivers and allies around the globe.

Laura Blair, from the University of South Florida’s Health Byrd Institute presented, Hsp40 molecular chaperones are potent regulators of tau seeding and accumulation with research focused on molecular and cell biology.

How does your research impact those with Alzheimer’s? The research from my lab impacts those living with Alzheimer’s disease through both depending our understanding of how this disease occurs and by working to identify new therapeutic target to build new solutions for its treatment.

How did you get involved in dementia research? The research from my lab impacts those living with Alzheimer’s disease through both depending our understanding of how this disease occurs and by working to identify new therapeutic target to build new solutions for its treatment.

What gives you hope? I think scientists are naturally optimistic people, but I am hopeful because we as a field are always learning more. Each discovery takes us closer to understanding and preventing dementia. 

At any given moment, discovery is happening. The Alzheimer’s Association plays a vital role in every significant development in Alzheimer’s research. Visit to learn more.

National Dementia Research News

Constipation Associated with Cognitive Aging and Decline

Findings revealed at #AAIC23 add to growing research aligning a healthy gut and a healthy brain. Researchers found a connection between chronic constipation and worsening cognition, as well as gut bacteria that may add to risk. Learn more.

Volunteering in Late Life May Protect the Brain

A new study found older adults who volunteered had better cognitive function — specifically, better planning, decision making and memory. Learn more.

Simple Finger Prick Test Exemplifies Advances in Alzheimer’s Disease Blood Tests

A simple finger-prick blood test may revolutionize the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, perhaps even making it possible to test at home, according to research presented today for the first time. Learn more.

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