The “graying of America” is growing at a record pace. In less than two decades, older adults are projected to outnumber children for the first time in this country’s history. University of Miami researchers are tapping into this expanding population in an effort to understand what allows some to age better than others.
Dr.Tatjana Rundek was nominated for the 31st annual in the Company of Women Outstanding Woman in Science and Technology award and it was one of 2 winners who are sharing this year’s award.
An innovative study by the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute of the Department of Neurology in the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine aims to determine what factors contribute to successful aging in seniors 85 and older.
“We are looking for super-agers who are socially active, engaged in hobbies, exercise regularly and are brain healthy,” said Tatjana Rundek, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neurology and public health sciences, and the principal UM investigator for the collaborative McKnight Brain Aging Registry study.
“While there are numerous studies about disorders of aging, such as dementias, few have focused on healthy individuals who maintain their cognitive abilities,” added Dr. Rundek, who is executive vice chair for research and faculty affairs in the Department of Neurology, scientific director of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, and the Evelyn F. McKnight Chair for Learning and Memory in Aging.
The UM researchers have begun enrolling about 50 South Florida study participants age 85 and older. Each of the other three McKnight Brain Institutes, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Florida and University of Arizona, will also enroll 50 participants.
“Our participants are excited and proud to be part of this super-aging study,” said Stacy S. Merritt, research and administration director at the McKnight Brain Institute. “We hope the knowledge we gain from the study will allow more of us to follow in their footsteps.”
Participants will be given assessments measuring their attention, working memory, comprehending language, calculating, reasoning, problem solving and decision making. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan will be taken of the brain and analyzed. “We will also be asking questions about their lifestyles and habits to help determine how they have stayed so healthy,” said Merritt.
Dr. Rundek said the McKnight study is particularly important since the U.S. population of older adults will continue growing in the next decade. The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that 16 percent of men and almost 30 percent of women age 50 will live to be 90 years old.
The study also supports the Miller School’s neuroscience research pillar. “In addition to learning more about successful aging, this study will help us design clinical trials focused on treating age-related cognitive losses or preventing further worsening,” said Dr. Rundek. “Ultimately, we hope the results will lead to interventions designed to help our seniors maintain physical, mental and emotional health.”
For more information on the study, contact Stacy Merritt at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 305-243-1386.
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute
Research Symposium and Chair Presentation
Don Soffer Clinical Research Center (CRB)
Michael S. Gordon Center for Research in Medical Education
1 st Floor Auditorium
1120 NW 14 th Street, 1st Floor
Miami, Florida 33136
At a ceremony before many of the nation’s most prominent neurologists, renowned researcher, epidemiologist, mentor, and educator Tatjana Rundek, M.D., Ph.D., formally became the holder of the Evelyn F. McKnight Endowed Chair for Learning and Memory in Aging.
Congratulations to Dr. Joyce Gomes-Osman for being awarded a Mentored Translational Research Scholars Program Award (KL2) from the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the University of Miami! This program is designed to support the research career development of early stage investigators at the assistant professor level for two years and will include: (1) 75% salary support up to the NIH Salary Cap; (2) $2,500 for travel and training-related activities; (3) $30,000 for research expenses.
Neighborhood greenness, or vegetative presence, has been associated with various indicators of health and wellbeing, but its relationship to Alzheimer’s disease has been less studied. Understanding the role of environmental factors in Alzheimer’s disease in older adults may inform and complement traditional interventions for Alzheimer’s disease and/or related dementias, including prevention and treatment. This study examines the relationship between neighborhood greenness and a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease among older adults in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States.
Dr. Susan L. Pekarske, a distinguished clinical pathologist and hematopathologist was elected trustee of the McKnight Brain Research Foundation (MBRF) at its board meeting on February 21, 2018. Her three-year term of service is effective July 1, 2018.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.S. degree in Biology, Dr. Pekarske attended the University of Wisconsin Medical School in Madison, Wisconsin, where she was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society and awarded her Doctor of Medicine degree in 1990. During medical school, Dr. Pekarske was the recipient of many honors for outstanding scholarship and achievement. Following completion of medical school, Dr. Pekarske completed her Internship in Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of California at San Diego in San Diego, California and a four-year residency training program in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology, Department of Pathology, also at the University of California at San Diego. Dr. Pekarske has also enhanced her interest and knowledge in the field of pathology by completing an additional Fellowship in Hematopathology in the Department of Pathology, Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation in La Jolla, California in 1996.
Dr. Pekarske is a Diplomate of The American Board of Pathology in combined Anatomic and Clinical Pathology and a Diplomate of The American Board of Hematology.
After the completion of her training in 1996, Dr. Pekarske served on the faculty and as an attending physician in the Department of Pathology at the University of California at San Diego, in San Diego, California. In 1998, she was recruited to the position of Staff Pathologist at the Northwest Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona. Dr. Pekarske and her husband, who is a practicing anesthesiologist, still reside in Tucson.
The purpose of the MBRF is to promote research and investigation of the brain in the fundamental mechanisms that underlie the neurobiology of memory with clinical relevance to the problems of cognitive decline and memory loss associated with the aging process. Dr. Pekarske’s background and experience as an expert clinical pathologist, and knowledge of diseases of the brain contributing to cognitive decline and memory loss make her uniquely qualified to serve as trustee of the MBRF.
Dr. Pekarske will serve with the current trustees, Dr. J. Lee Dockery, Gainesville, FL; Dr. Michael L. Dockery, Charlotte, NC; Dr. Richard S. Isaacson, New York, New York; Dr. Nina Ellenbogen Raim, Miami Beach, FL;, Dr. Gene Ryerson, Gainesville, FL; Dr. Madhav Thambisetty, Silver Spring, MD; Dr. Robert Wah, McLean, VA; and Melanie Cianciotto Corporate Trustee, Orlando, FL. in their role in promoting research of the brain leading to the understanding and alleviation of cognitive decline and memory loss associated with the aging process.