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NORC News

Davis receives research funding from Alzheimer’s of Central Alabama

October 12, 2016

Jennifer A. Davis, PhD

Jennifer A. Davis, PhD student in UAB’s Genetics, Genomics, and Bioinformatics Graduate Program and T32 graduate trainee in the Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC), recently received a grant from Alzheimer’s of Central Alabama (ACA) to fund the study “A Chronotherapeutic Approach to Treatment for Alzheimer's Disease.” The ACA serves Alzheimer’s patients in 21 counties as well as their families and caregivers through education and services, in addition to bestowing grants to professionals conducting research in the field. The organization will present a check for $10,000 to Ms. Davis at their annual conference to be held October 13, 2016, at Rosewood Hall in Homewood.

Since behavioral disturbance and disruption of day-night eating and sleeping rhythms in dementia patients are top reasons for institutionalization and a cause of caregiver burden, the proposed research will investigate whether time of day–specific drug application aimed at restoring the disruption in the daily activity of an enzyme implicated in both metabolic impairment and neurological disease can delay onset of circadian and cognitive abnormalities. These results will lay the groundwork for translational studies designed to target this mechanism for proper therapeutic timing for male and female patients with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease.

“I am very excited that our project was chosen for this award. Chronopharmacology—using specifically timed drug treatments to enhance benefits of treatment—is a rapidly growing field with huge potential for improving patient care in many areas of medicine. Finding ways to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease is becoming a major focus of research, and I believe our research will provide novel insight and may have the potential to improve the quality of life for those affected as well as their caretakers,” says Ms. Davis.

UAB co-researchers involved in this project are Ms. Davis’s mentor Karen L. Gamble, PhD, associate professor in the Division of Behavioral Neurobiology; and fellow NORC members Thomas van Groen, PhD, associate professor, and Inga Kadish, PhD, assistant professor, in the Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology.

Ms. Davis’s current research is focused on exploring the impact a high-fat diet has on the circadian rhythms of glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) and how these rhythms impact learning and memory.