Like many aspiring young clinical researchers, my journey began with an NIH funded post-doctoral fellowship with a goal to eventually develop my own independent research program. As a neuropsychologist with specialty training in smart home technologies and aging, I am interested exploring how we can develop new innovative assessment tools to improve the early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease.
With these interests and background, I was fortunate to obtain a fellowship position in the NIA-funded Layton Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at OHSU working under the mentorship of Dr. Jeffrey Kaye, who is an authority in investigating the use of innovative technology to improve successful aging.
As a post-doctoral fellow, I was eligible to apply for several regional pilot grant opportunities designed for junior investigators who need pilot data to support larger national grant applications.
In 2015 I competed successfully for a research grant made possible by Oregon citizens through the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Fund of the Oregon Charitable Tax Checkoff Program.
Securing this grant allowed me to carry out a 1-year pilot study to explore how monitoring the driving patterns of older adults can be used as a new tool for measuring brain health.
We tracked frequency, time of day, routes traveled, and amount of time spent driving in a small sample of seniors for 6 months. Results from this and future studies will help researchers understand how changes in routine driving habits as people age may be related to risk for developing dementia.
Having practical, non-invasive tools that can identify Alzheimer’s Disease as early as possible will be critical for effective treatment once medications become available.
Receiving grant support from the Oregon Charitable Tax Checkoff Program provided me with the opportunity to gather pilot data that I recently used to support a national (NIH) multi-site grant application for research on a larger scale to advance earlier detection, diagnosis, and treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease.
My NIH grant application would not have been possible without the generosity of Oregon citizens through the Charitable Tax Checkoff Program. After completing my post-doctoral fellowship I was able to obtain an assistant faculty position and am on a clear path to developing an independent program to advance research on Alzheimer’s Disease.
You can contribute to Alzheimer’s research—in Oregon—by donating part, or all, of your tax refund to “Alzheimer’s Disease Research” on Schedule OR-DONATE, Oregon Charitable Checkoff Donations, on your 2016 tax form.
This research will increase our understanding of Alzheimer’s and bring us closer to new treatments, test ways to give effective support to caregivers and families of persons with Alzheimer’s disease and pave the way for additional funding from the National Institutes of Health and other national research programs. Funds are administered through OHSU under the direction of Oregon Partnership for Alzheimer’s Research.