October 8, 2010

USA: Vital Longevity Researcher Earns Major NIH Grant

DALLAS, Texas / University of Texas / News Center / October 8, 2010

Postdoctoral Fellow Studying Vascular Health and Cognitive Aging

For the second time this year, a postdoctoral fellow in UT Dallas’ Center for Vital Longevity has earned a prestigious, highly competitive career-development grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Dr. Karen M. Rodrigue was selected to receive the K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award. The five-year, two-phase grant totals just under $1 million. It comes from the National Institute on Aging, which usually awards only seven or eight K99s per year.

The central aim of Rodrigue’s grant is to examine a vascular hypothesis of aging that involves the role of risk factors, such as hypertension, and specific cerebrovascular mechanisms such as hypoperfusion, in shaping the course of brain and cognitive aging.

An additional goal of her project is to test the hypothesis that vascular risk factors lead to the deposition of a sticky protein found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease and in about 30 percent of non-demented healthy adults.

Rodrigue sees this area of research as vital to future preventive approaches. “Understanding the contributions of vascular health to successful, as well as pathological aging, is fundamentally important, given both the prevalence of vascular risk in the aging population and its amenability to prevention and treatment,” she said.

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