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2017 Grants - Thames
Biopsychosocial Contributions to Early Brain Changes in African Americans
April Thames, Ph.D.
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
2017 Alzheimer's Association Research Grant to Promote Diversity (AARG-D)
How does life stress, psychological resilience, and related factors influence the risk for Alzheimer's disease and its rate of progression in people of African ancestry?
People of African ancestry have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease than people of European ancestry. Also, the disease can have different characteristics and rates of progression in people of different racial backgrounds.
Many factors affect the risk of Alzheimer's disease, as well as the rate of disease progression. Such factors may include lifestyle choices, personality type, living conditions, educational opportunities, traumatic events in early life, and other factors. Unfortunately, most of the studies that have explored those factors have included only small numbers of people with African ancestry. Thus, the factors that influence the risk of disease, its rate of progression, and the way the disease affects brain function are not well understood in people of African ancestry.
April Thames, Ph.D. and colleagues have proposed to study the factors affecting the risk or rate of progression of Alzheimer's disease in people of African ancestry who are at high risk for the disease because of genetics. The researchers will follow individuals who are at high risk because they carry a high-risk version of the ApoE4 gene, one of the strongest known risk factors for late-onset Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Thames and colleagues will collect data on each participant's history of psychological events, as well as test their brain function and obtain images of their brain structure. The researchers will then analyze how factors such as lifetime stress and psychological resilience affect the risk for Alzheimer's disease or its rate of progression.
This research project will fill important gaps in our knowledge of how stressful experiences, psychological resilience, and related factors affect the risk or progression of Alzheimer's disease in people of African ancestry. The results may help scientists stratify populations appropriately in studying Alzheimer's and develop better ways to reduce the risk of disease or slow its progression that is racially or ethnically appropriate.