Dr. Colleen Pappas, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition under Dr. Auriel Willette, has won a 2020 Postdoctoral Scholar Seed Grant Award from Iowa State University. These grants provide postdoctoral scholars research funding in the role of a principal investigator, while giving them an opportunity to develop independent research.
“I am very excited and grateful to have received the grant,” said Pappas. “It will give me the opportunity to further explore a timely topic in the field of Alzheimer's research. I would not have been able to do so without the funding.”
Pappas’ project, "Neural Network Decline and Alzheimer’s Disease: A Relentless Synergy of Genetic and Metabolic Factors?," will use data from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative to compare people with and without a family history of Alzheimer's disease using a technique known as resting state functional MRI. This examines brain activation when people are in the scanner not paying attention to anything. It’s known that brain metabolism changes with Alzheimer's disease, Pappas wants to see if metabolic factors (i.e. cholesterol, glucose) are different in people with or without a family history of Alzheimer's, and if this in turn influences the brain when it’s at rest.
“From this work, we will gain a better understanding of how genetic factors and metabolic factors work together to explain changes in brain activity,” said Pappas. “Long term, we hope the results of our study, along with other current research, could be used to identify additional mechanisms related to Alzheimer’s disease pathology and improve potential treatments.”