June 2021
A message from our Director
My family took its first vacation in a long time a few weeks ago. We hiked in the Sierra mountains of California. So restorative! We took in jaw-dropping vistas of mountains and lakes, watched the sun set over majestic peaks, shared simple meals at our peaceful campsite, and slept under the stars and the amazing Milky Way. This June, which is Alzheimer’s and Brain Health Awareness month, I hope each of you finds something restorative. Something that allows you to push “reset” as we begin to move away from the isolation of the pandemic.

As I say to patients all time, “use it or lose it!” But over the past year, it’s been much harder to “use it.” Now is the time to review, in this newsletter, tips to ensure brain health. You can be sure those tips include exercise, social activities, and engaging with friends and family — all now easier to accomplish with the COVID-19 vaccine in hand. (Not received your vaccine yet? Please do! The COVID-19 vaccines are remarkably safe and effective, free, and readily available). You might also watch my video on dementia and brain health, or at least tell someone about it. I just watched it, and it’s actually pretty good! While you’re at it, you might check out some of the many other educational videos posted on our YouTube channel.

I also hope you enjoy your reading about the new members of our growing team. Why do we continue to grow? Because our Center has taken on many new studies of brain function and various dementias, ranging from using electrical stimulation to enhance brain function to understanding frontotemporal and vascular dementia. I’m thrilled that these new staff will help us reach our goal to better understand and treat Alzheimer's and related dementias.

Wishing you a great summer ahead!
— Henry Paulson, MD, PhD
Michigan Alzheimer's Disease Center Director
New Study Looking for Participants
SPEAK! Study (Seniors Promoting English Acquisition and Knowledge)
Help researchers find out if using simple computer technology to converse with English Language Learners might improve a sense of purpose, connectedness, and wellbeing among older adults with symptoms of mild cognitive impairment. The study is looking for adults with mild cognitive impairment over the age of 55. Contact the SPEAK study team at SPEAK-Study@med.umich.edu. This study team is enrolling participants who live anywhere in the United States.
New Research Announcements
Benjamin Hampstead, PhD, ABPP/CN, Stanley Berent, PhD Collegiate Professor of Psychology and Clinical Core Lead of our Center received a $4.4 million grant from the National Institute on Aging that will explore cognition and neuromodulation-based interventions for the next five years. The grant will fulfill the following goals: 1. Provide access to the cutting-edge equipment and infrastructure necessary to plan, perform, and interpret rigorous clinical trials. 2: Provide thorough training in best practices related to cognition-oriented treatments and non-invasive neuromodulation. And 3: Develop consensus guidelines and centralized analytic infrastructure to guide the rational and effective use of cognition-oriented treatments and non-invasive neuromodulation in Alzheimer's disease and related dementias.
Henry Paulson, MD, PhD Lucile Groff Professor of Neurology and Director of our Center received a $8.6 million grant from the National Institute on Aging that will explore the mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases, specifically the intersections with ubiquitin pathways. This research will build on recent discoveries in polyglutamine-mediated neurodegeneration and brain-expressed ubiquilins using multi-scalar approaches to define disease mechanisms, emphasizing intersections with ubiquitin-dependent pathways in the search for novel therapeutic targets for a group of currently untreatable diseases.
June is Alzheimer's and Brain Health Awareness Month
June is Alzheimer's and Brain Health Awareness month. Maintaining your brain health is tied to your overall health. You can improve and maintain your brain health by having a regular exercise routine and maintaining good nutrition and sleep habits. To learn 10 Ways to Love Your Brain, you can visit this resource with the Alzheimer's Association. Also, our Director, Dr. Henry Paulson presents Dementia & Brain Health on our YouTube channel.
June Programs and Events
What's Your Style?
How Your Caregiving Style Impacts The Care You Provide and Your Own Well-Being
 
June 22, 12:00 - 1:00PM
 
This event will be presented by Amanda Leggett, PhD, Research Assistant Professor within the University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Leggett currently has a study looking for participants. More information about the study here.
Lewy Body Dementia Support Groups
Brighton & Ann Arbor Support Groups
Tuesday, June 8 
2:00 - 3:00PM Caregivers 
3:00 - 4:00PM Living with LBD

Michigan Support Group
Tuesday, June 8
6:00 - 7:00PM Caregivers
Boyne City Support Group (In person*)
Tuesday, June 8 
2:00 - 3:00PM Caregivers 
3:00 - 4:00PM Living with LBD

West Bloomfield & Lansing Support Groups
Thursday, June 24
2:00 - 3:00PM Caregivers 
3:00 - 4:00PM Living with LBD
Wellness Initiative Programs
Catching Your Breath
June 14, 10:00 - 11:30AM
 
A free monthly wellbeing and mindfulness program for family caregivers of adults living with memory loss. The program varies each month and newcomers are welcome at any time.
Mitten Minds Support Group
June 15, 3:00 - 4:00PM
 
Mitten Minds Support Group is a monthly group specifically for individuals with mild cognitive impairment or early-stage dementia. The group takes place on the third Tuesday of each month.
Events with our Partners
Exercise and Brain Health
June 17, 2:00PM

The NeuroNetwork for Emerging Therapies will be holding the fourth installment of its 30 minute Mini Symposium Series. Dr. Eva Feldman will be joined by Associate Professor of Movement Science and Director of the Human Bioenergetics Laboratory Jacob Haus, Ph.D., and MHealthy Program Manager of Physical Activity Brett Knight.  
Cognitive Dysfunction in HIV and Alzheimer's: Similarities and Differences

June 15, 5:30 - 7:00PM
June 22, 10:30AM - Noon

These two webinars are specifically for professionals who may provide care to persons living with HIV. They are held in partnership with our Center, the Alzheimer's Association - Michigan Chapter, and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The presentations will cover the following topics, and CE/CME's are pending for social workers, nurses, physicians and psychologists.

  • Common changes in cognition that can be seen among PLWH
  • Shared comorbid features leading to potential increases in cognitive difficulties in HAND and MCI or AD
  • Which cognitive or behavioral symptoms that are evident in PLWH may require a more comprehensive evaluation
  • Basic health behaviors and risk prevention for both HAND and MCI or AD
Staff Announcements
Jonathan Reader, MS promoted to Data Core Manager

Jon joined the Center in July 2019 as a Programmer/Data Analyst. He was promoted to Data Systems Manager earlier this year. He earned his master's degree in Human Development & Family Studies from The Pennsylvania State University. He is interested in using technology to improve the efficiency of the research process as a whole. This includes working with data from collection to publication with the ultimate goal of improving individuals’ lives via policy-level impact. In his spare time, he enjoys Netflix, reading, and spending time with his friends and family (including his cat, Albany).
Theresa Gierzynski, LLMSW to bridge Clinical Core and Wellness Initiative

Theresa has worked with the Center for nearly three years as a Research Coordinator. In her role she performs various study-related activities, including neuropsychological testing, training of new staff, and conveying neuropsychological feedback to research participants as part of the U-M Memory and Aging Project study. This year, Theresa helped launch a new program with our Wellness Initiative. Living Grief is a six month program for grieving care partners caring for someone living with memory loss. We are excited to have Theresa on board to bring more information about our Wellness Initiative programs that support caregivers and those living with memory loss to our research participants as part of her dual role in the Clinical Core.
Yvonne Sturt, CCRP hired as Regulatory Specialist

Yvonne joined us in March and helps to manage the Center’s numerous clinical trials and longitudinal research projects. She earned her BS degree in Health Sciences from Georgia Southern University and is also a Certified Clinical Research Professional (CCRP) through the Society of Clinical Research Administrators (SOCRA). Yvonne has held various positions in both Michigan Medicine and the Office of Research over the past twenty five years. She has expertise in research administration, project and program management, regulatory oversight, human resources, financial management, and pre/post-award grants management.
Kyra Strachan hired as Brain Bank Technician

Kyra joined us in March of this year. She is a laboratory technician for the Michigan Brain Bank. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a BA in Biopsychology Cognition Neuroscience and has been involved with research at the university since 2019.
Yewande Taiwo, MS hired as Imaging Coordinator

Yewande joined us in March. She is responsible for the acquisition, management, analysis and transfer of imaging files. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology and Washington University in St. Louis, respectively. In her spare time, she enjoys watching tv, reading, and playing ultimate frisbee.
Kiren Chaundry hired as Research Area Specialist

Kiren graduated from Wayne State University in 2015 with dual degrees in Psychology and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. Prior to joining us, her work focused on children and adolescents through a developmental psychology lens. She joined the Center in June to expand her skill set across the developmental lifespan. Kiren’s role assists with a variety of studies including the U-M Memory & Aging Project, ALLFTD study and Neighborhood Study.
Zoe Gerndt hired as summer Outreach Intern

Zoe Gerndt is a current graduate student in the U-M School of Public Health, earning her degree in Health Behavior and Health Education. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience from the University of Michigan in 2020. Zoe joined us in March as an intern in the Outreach, Recruitment, and Engagement Core. She is assisting with activities in the Wellness Initiative and leading the development of a series of short informational videos for the Center.