Gareth Howell, Ph.D.
Genomics approaches to age-related neurodegenerative diseases
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and vascular dementia (VaD) are the two most common forms of dementia with increasing age representing the greatest risk factor for both. There has been a great deal of research identifying the overlapping risk factors and cerebrovascular pathologies that are shared between AD and VaD. These risk factors include cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, and sedentary lifestyles. A majority of AD patients have cerebrovascular abnormalities in addition to the common amyloid plaques and TAU tangles that make up the disease pathologies. These cerebrovascular pathologies include microinfarcts and cerebral amyloid angiopathy, which often lead to vascular cognitive impairment and dementia (VCID). VCID has no known treatment. The ability to find effective therapies and early diagnosis is dependent on understanding the prodromal cerebrovascular pathologies and genetic risk factors that proceed neurodegeneration in both AD and VaD. To answer this, we believe it is necessary to understand functional cerebrovascular reserve in the young and aging brain to prevent VCID. Understanding key time points in aging when cerebrovascular reserve becomes vulnerable will lead to better diagnostics and potential therapies for many dementia patients.
Support for this seminar is provided by an Institutional Development Award (IDeA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under grant number P20GM103423.