Funded Pilot Grants, 2006-2019

Pilot Projects 2018-2019

Corinna Burger, PhD, “Regulation of p70 Ribosomal S6 Kinase in a Rodent Model of Tauopathy”

The Burger lab aims to identify the molecular changes that occur in the brain when undergoing environmental enrichment therapy to understand if there is a protective role for age-related memory disorders such as Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer’s disease.

Rebecca Koscik, PhD, “Conditional Norms for Mid- to Late-life Cognition”

Dr. Koscik and her team aim to develop a cognitive testing tool that identifies change in a person’s cognitive testing relative to their previous testing, instead of comparing results to across-the-board standards. 

James Dowell, PhD, “Histone Depletion in Alzheimer’s Disease”

Dr. Dowell's proposed research is designed to determine the importance of histone depletion in driving human AD-associated transcriptional dysfunction and downstream pathological processes.

Regina M. Murphy, PhD, “Retinol Transport across the Blood-Brain Barrier”

Retinol (Vitamin A) deficiency can have a detrimental effect on the nervous system and sleep regulation. Murphy’s research team will examine the effect beta amyloid has on retinol movement across the blood-brain barrier and how beta amyloid may lead to retinol deficiencies in Alzheimer’s disease.

Pilot Projects 2017-2018

Heather Johnson, MD, and Lindsay Clark, PhD, "Association of Cardiovascular Risk Factors with Micro- and Macrovascular Cerebral Function in Whites and African Americans"

Drs. Johnson and Clark will explore whether midlife cardiovascular risk factors, such as tobacco use, insulin resistance, hypertension, and obesity, increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease by altering blood flow to the brain. Since these risk factors are modifiable, they are therefore potential targets for prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's disease. The researchers will be evaluating the relationships between the vascular risk factors, Alzheimer's disease indicators in the brain and spinal cord, and genetic risk factors. Additionally, they will be assessing wether these relationships vary across race, specifically between African Americans and Whites—African Americans have a higher prevalence of vascular risk factors compared to Whites, as data obtained from previous research found that 85% of African American participants had one or more vascular disease, compared to 65% of White participants. This research aims to improve the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's disease across races. 

Robert Sanders, PhD, "A Pilot Study in to the Overlapping Pathologies, and Relationship, of Dementia and Delirium"

Dementia and delirium affect millions of people. Alone, Alzheimer’s disease currently affects 5 million people and by 2050 is expected to affect 14 million people. Both dementia and delirium are associated with significant impairments to quality of life, loss of independence, billions of dollars in healthcare expenses, and increased mortality. Dr. Sanders’ research will focus on the overlap in the biological mechanisms that cause these diseases, as well as their differences, in order to better understand both diseases. This research aims to improve the treatment and prevention of these diseases, while also inciting new directions of delirium and dementia research.

Andrea Gilmore-Bykovskyi, PhD, RN, "Pilot Testing of a Clinical Intervention for the Management of Neuropsychiatric Symptoms in Hospitalized Patients with Alzheimer's Disease"

Virtually all individuals with moderate to severe dementia experience neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS), such as agitation, wandering, and care resistance. These symptoms often worsen during hospitalization, due to the changes in environment and routine—placing the patient with dementia at increased risk for negative outcomes including inappropriate antipsychotic use, need for one-on-one safety attendants, and prolonged hospital stays. Poorly managed NPS are also associated with significant caregiver stress and are a strong risk factor for decisions to institutionalize someone into permanent care.  Dr. Gilmore-Bykovskyi's research focuses on providing informatics-based clinical decision support to improve management of NPS during hospitalization. Her research team has worked in collaboration with medical, nursing, and nursing assistant staff to design an evidence-based, multi-component intervention that aims to better prevent, identify, and respond to NPS. The intervention consists of clinical decision-support tools, prevention strategies, symptom-specific treatment guidance, and systematic pain assessment protocols, all of which focus on addressing and treating the underlying causes of NPS symptoms, such as pain, emotional and social needs, or environmental factors. The research team will evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of the clinical intervention in decreasing the use of potentially inappropriate antipsychotics, restraints, and one-on-one safety attendants.

Ei Terasawa, PhD, "A Non-invasive Method for Assessment of Estradiol in the Brain"

Research has shown that women using the medication estradiol, a pill that is commonly used to treat symptoms of menopause, have also experienced improved cognitive function and, in those affected, the delay of Alzheimer's disease progression. In women, the ovaries produce estrogens for reproductive function, but estrogens also play a significant role in brain functions such as learning, memory, and the protection from cell death in the brain. However, post-menopausal women no longer produce ovarian estradiol.  This could, to some extent, account for the fact that women are affected by Alzheimer's disease at a higher rate; 1 in 6 women are affected by the disease, in contrast to 1 in 11 men. Additionally, neuroestradiol in the brains of men has been reported to decrease in elderly men, especially in patients with Alzheimer's disease, possibly being a contributing factor to the disease. These previous findings prompted Dr. Terasawa to conduct further research on the role of estradiol in the brain and how it relates to Alzheimer's disease, using a new, non-invasive brain imaging method. Research will be testing how estradiol produced in the brain protects from Alzheimer's disease through assessing the production of estradiol in the brain of female monkeys whose ovaries have been removed, specifically, if the production differs with age and if the production differs when the monkeys are given estradiol as a replacement. The ultimate goal of this research is to find a tool for earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and develop a new treatment approach for Alzheimer's disease. The validation of the non-invasive brain imaging method will also be useful for future research on a variety of topics, as the role of neuroestrogens is completely unknown.

Pilot Projects 2016-2017

  • Reid Alisch, PhD, "DNA methylation age and gender in the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention (WRAP)"
  • Matthew Jones, PhD, "Scavenging of neuroprotective neurosteroids by A-beta, and consequences for GABAergic inhibition"
  • Nicole Pulia, PhD, "Development of novel therapeutic interventions for patients with Alzheimer's disease and comorbid dysphagia"
  • Vikas Singh, PhD, "Multiscale analysis of brain connectivity and the interplay with molecular imaging markers in preclinical AD"
  • Nicole Werner, PhD, "HelpCareConnect: Design of a web-based mobile app for distributed informal caregiving"

Pilot Projects 2015-2016

  • Erika W. Hagen, PhD, "Brain injury in relation to new-onset and long-duration sleep apnea exposure in older adults: A population-based study"
  • Sterling Johnson, PhD, "In-vivo tau imaging in Alzheimer's disease"
  • Katherine Kalil, PhD, "The role of tau phosphorylation in cytoskeletal dynamics mediating pre- and post-synaptic plasticity of normal and Alzheimer's human iPSC-derived cortical neurons"
  • William G. Schrage, PhD, "Vascular control of cerebral blood flow in middle-aged adults"

Pilot Projects 2014-2015

  • Andrew L. Alexander, PhD, "Imaging Neuroplasticity in Mild Cognitive Impairment"
  • Rozalyn Anderson, PhD, "Impact of Aging and AD on Neuronal Energy Metabolism in the Mouse Hippocampus"
  • Jill Barnes, PhD, "Cerebral Vasoconstrictor Function and Autoregulatory Capacity in Exercise-Trained Humans: A Pilot Study"
  • Cara J. Westmark, PhD, "Testing Direct Effects of mGluR5 Inhibition on Sleep in an Alzheimer's Disease Mouse Model"

Pilot Projects 2013-2014

  • Brad Christian, PhD, “Development and Translation of a Neuroinflammation Biomarker
  • Vincent Cryns, MD, “Caspase-cleaved Tau as a Biomarker in Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Robert Thorne, PhD, “Toward the Development of Noninvasive Immunotherapy for Alzheimer’s Disease:Intranasal Targeting of IgG to the Brain”

Pilot Projects 2012-2013

  • Anita Bhattacharya, PhD, “iPSCs from Down Syndrome Individuals with Amyloid Load"
  • Maritza Dowling, PhD, “Metric Equivalence and Comparability of the MMSE and MoCA Cognitive Tests and Impact on the Identification of Cognitive Impairment”
  • Dorothy Farrar-Edwards, PhD, “Development of an AD Prevention Program for African Americans"
  • Ozioma Okonkwo, PhD, “Identification of Antecedent Biomarkers of Alzheimer’s Disease in Cerebrospinal Fluid using a Clinically Available Endophenotype”
  • Mariana Pehar, PhD & Luigi Puglielli, MD, PhD, “Involvement of p53 Activity in the Cognitive Decline that Accompanies Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease”

Pilot Projects 2011-2012

  • Sean Fain, PhD - Proposal to develop in vivo marker of brain metabolism, i.e. hyperpolarized 1-13C-pyruvate, using a mouse model
  • Michael Gitcho, PhD & Jeff Johnson, PhD - Proposal to clarify role of overexpression of a tau-like protein, TDP-43 in AD pathology, using mouse model and brain tissue
  • Li Lingjun, PhD - Proposal to derive and test drug-delivery potential of a modified N-acetyl-L cysteine molecule, which is a known antioxidant agent

Pilot Projects 2010-2011

  • Gururaj Joshi, PhD & Jeff Johnson, PhD, "Role of Nrf2 in mouse models of Alzheimer's disorders"
  • Corinne Engelman, MSPH, PhD, "Genetic architecture of Alzheimer's-related functional and structural brain aging"
  • Georgia Malandraki, PhD, "Effects of sensory stimulation on neural activity and swallowing performance in patients with mild Alzheimer's disease"

Pilot Projects 2008

  • Barbara B. Bendlin, PhD, "Early Detection of White Matter Degeneration in People at Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease: Relationship to Vascular Risk and Memory Function"
  • Bradley Christian, PhD, "PET Imaging the 5-HT1A System in MCI and AD"
  • Onofre T. DeJesus, PhD, "PET Imaging Markers For Tau Protein"
  • Carey Gleason, PhD, "A Mechanistic Examination of Falls Occurring in Patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease"
  • Bruce Hermann, PhD, "Cognitive aging in chronic epilepsy"
  • Luigi Puglielli, MD, PhD, "An aging pathway controls Alzheimer's disease neuropathology"
  • Vikas Singh, PhD, "Methods and tools for image based AD classification with evaluations on the ADNI dataset"
  • Joshua M. Thorpe, PhD, MPH, "Barriers to Medical Care and Medication Adherence in Persons with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders"
  • Whitney Wharton, PhD, "The Effect of Centrally Acting Antihypertensives on Individuals at Risk for Alzheimer's Disease"

Pilot Projects 2006

  •  Cynthia Carlsson, MD, MS, "Impact of Atorvastatin on Cerebral Perfusion and Endothelial Function"
  •  Timothy Juergens, MD, "Autonomic dysfunction in subjects at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease"
  •  Ronald Kalil, PhD, "Nestin positive neurons in the cholinergic basal forebrain and related areas"
  •  James Malter, MD, "Characterization of a novel mouse model for the study of neurological diseases"
  •  Michele Ries, PhD, "Posterior cingulate connectivity in individuals at risk for Alzheimer's disease"
  •  JoAnne Robbins, PhD, and Ianessa Humbert, PhD, "Swallowing physiology and Neurophysiology in Alzheimer's disease and Lewy Body Disease"
  •  Randal Tibbits, PhD, "Functional dissection of ATM-CREB signaling pathway in the nervous system"
  •  Jerry Yin, PhD, "CREB-responsive transcription of APP"