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2014 Grants - Rajan
Role of Activities on Genetic Risk of Neurodegeneration by Race/Ethnicity
Kumar Rajan, Ph.D.
Rush University Medical Center
2014 New Investigator Research Grant
Several studies have shown that physical and cognitive activities may help reduce the future risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s disease. However, the role of physical and cognitive activities in those with a high genetic risk of developing MCI and Alzheimer’s, especially in the African-American population, is not well established. It is possible that reduced effectiveness of these protective factors in the presence of increased genetic risk may contribute to a higher prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease among African-Americans.
Kumar Rajan, Ph.D., and colleagues propose to study the association of physical and cognitive activities and their moderating effects on genetic markers of Alzheimer’s disease in a large urban, biracial population (63% African-American). The researchers will focus specifically on how these protective activities modify the effects of APOE-ε4 – a gene variant linked to increased Alzheimer’s risk, and 14 additional candidate genes associated with the risk of developing cognitive decline, MCI and Alzheimer’s disease.
A better understanding of the underlying Alzheimer’s disease process in terms of how lifestyle measures interact with genetic mechanisms in African-Americans, will allow researchers to develop specific strategies for prevention and intervention in this population.