UCI MIND and WAM Launch New Women-Focused Research Initiative

A new partnership in Orange County, California is seeking answers to an essential question affecting global health: Why do more women get Alzheimer’s disease than men?

UCI MIND, the University of California at Irvine’s Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders, has announced a new research initiative in partnership with the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement (WAM), a non-profit organization founded by former California First Lady Maria Shriver. The initiative, based on collaborative fundraising by both organizations, will make pilot funding available to UCI researchers for high caliber scientific proposals that investigate the role of sex and gender in Alzheimer’s disease.

“Recent investigations indicate that genetics, hormones, and even lifestyle factors may affect women’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease differently than men,” says Dr. Joshua Grill, Co-Director of UCI MIND.

Grill notes that time is of the essence in order to slow a growing epidemic. “The number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S. is expected to triple by 2050,” Grill explains.  “This is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, and until a treatment is found, the disease is on track to continue to disproportionately affect women.”

Maria Shriver, founder of the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement and a national advocate for Alzheimer’s research, explains, “Two out of three Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease today are women.  By 2050, 16 million people in the U.S. and 135 million worldwide will have fallen victim to this disease, and millions more family members and friends will suffer alongside those diagnosed, mostly women.”

Shriver points to this new initiative as a crucial starting point for researchers. “Women are at the epicenter of the Alzheimer’s crisis. That’s why we must be at the heart of the solution,” Shriver states.

“The new UCI MIND Women’s Research Initiative is expected to enable investigators to collect essential preliminary data. This will enable larger federal grants over time,” Grill says. “The long-term goal of the initiative is to substantially increase the focus of study on this critical topic in order to improve understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.”

The UC Irvine Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders (UCI MIND) is internationally recognized for its research accomplishments in disorders of the brain, particularly those that are age-related. UCI MIND is the University’s center for aging and dementia research, with its faculty seeking to understand the causes leading to neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, Lewy body dementia, and Huntington’s disease. For those suffering from age-related memory problems, its goal is to develop improved means for effective diagnosis and treatment and to provide help to families and caregivers. UCI MIND is home to one of 30 Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers funded by the National Institute on Aging, and is one of ten California Alzheimer’s Disease Centers funded by the California Department of Public Health. For more information, please visit mind.uci.edu.

The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement (WAM), a nonprofit organization founded by Maria Shriver, is committed to finding out why Alzheimer’s discriminates against women. WAM believes  that answering the question of why women are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s, researchers will unlock the other mysteries surrounding this mind-blowing disease that will lead to a cure for all.  To that end, the organization  urges scientists to conduct women-based research and raise funds to support it. It also educates the public  about  the connection between brain health, and lifestyle and provides a platform for those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s to share their stories and partner with organizations to provide caregiver respite grants. For more information, go to TheWomensAlzheimersMovement.org.


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