July 12, 2016

News & Events

Carl Rinne Lewy Body Dementia Initiative Goes Public

“Part of fighting Lewy Body Dementia is making people aware of it in the first place”.

On Wednesday June 1st the MADC hosted a kick-off party for the Carl Rinne Lewy Body Dementia Initiative, founded by Tamara Real. The event was held at Matthaei Botanical Gardens and was well attended by Tamara Real’s family and friends as well as healthcare professionals at the University of Michigan and in the community. The goals of the initiative are to educate health care professionals about the disease, increasing public awareness and most importantly, provide more support to those with LBD and their loved ones.

Dr. Hampstead is 2016 APA Early Career Achievement Awardhampstead-phdee

Dr. Hampstead has been chosen as a recipient of the 2016 APA Early Career Achievement Award, based on his achievements and demonstration of leadership in the field of psychology.  Included in Dr. Hampstead’s award is travel to the 2016 APA Annual Convention in Denver in August.  The APA Annual Convention is in its 124th year, and is a wonderful opportunity to connect with others in the field of psychology.  Congratulations to Dr. Hampstead!

New Study Finds Cognitive Deficits in Healthy Elderly Population with “Normal” MMSE Scores

A new study completed by Kristen Votruba, PhD, Carol Persad, PhD, and Bruno Giordani, PhD investigated whether healthy older adults with a Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score above 23 exhibit cognitive impairment on neuropsychological tests.mmse

In the study, participants completed the MMSE and then neuropsychological testing of ten domains.  It was found that participants performed well on measures of naming and recall but showed mild to moderate impairment in working memory and processing speed and marked impairment in inhibition, sustained attention, and executive functioning.

The finding that cognitive impairment, particularly in attention and executive functioning, is found in healthy older persons who perform well on the MMSE has clinical and research implications in terms of emphasizing normal variability in performance and early identification of possible impairment.

Check out the full article here.

Laura Rice-Oeschger, MADC Wellness Coordinator, Receives Anthony DeVito II Memorial AwardLaura Headshot

Laura Rice-Oeschger, MADC Wellness Coordinator, has been presented the 2016 University of Michigan Geriatrics Center Anthony DeVito II Memorial Award!

Each year since 1991, the University of Michigan Geriatrics Center has presented an award in memory of Anthony DeVito, to an individual who has provided outstanding service, dedication and commitment to excellence in the field of geriatrics education in Michigan.  Laura was officially nominated by Beth Spencer, Consultant and Lecturer in Geriatric Social Work.

Since 2012, Laura has lead the Wellness Initiative for the MADC where she designs, implements and evaluates well-being and mindfulness-based programming for caregivers and adults living with dementia. Moved by family experiences with long-term illness and memory loss, Laura has worked in dementia care since 1994 in a variety of capacities.  She was the first Director of the University of Michigan Geriatrics Center Silver Club Memory Loss Programs prior to serving as clinical manager of the Early Stage Initiative for the Los Angeles regional Alzheimer’s Association.   She is a national and state presenter on memory loss and caregiver well-being and holds advanced professional certifications in aging, dementia and contemplative clinical care. Laura received her MSW from the University of Michigan School of Social Work.

There will be an award luncheon in Laura’s honor in May, where she will be presented her award by Dr. Jeffrey Halter.

For more information on the award and it’s past recipients, click here.

Congratulations, Laura!

Dr. Vikram Shakkottai replaces Dr. Roger Albin as the Michigan Brain Bank DirectorShakkottai_2012[2]

As of February 1, 2016 Vikram Shakkottai will be replacing Dr. Roger Albin as the Michigan Brain Bank Director.  Dr. Albin has been the Brain Bank Director at the University of Michigan since 1992, nearly the entire history of the UM Brain Bank created in 1987.

Vikram Shakkottai is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University of Michigan School of Medicine. He received his MBBS from Christian Medical Collage in Vellor, Tamil Nadu, India and completed his residency at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. His interests include investigating changes in cerebellar physiology in ataxic disorders and determining whether ion channel modulators have a role in the treatment of movement disorders.

To learn more about the Michigan Brain Bank, click here.

Announcing the Isadore & Margaret Mezey Junior Investigator Travel Award Competition!

The Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center is pleased to announce the launch of the Isadore & Margaret Mezey Junior Investigator Travel Award Competition. Please share with colleagues you think may be interested.

  • Internal Submission Deadline: Friday, March 4, 2016signature-vertical
  • Award Cycle: 2016
  • Discipline/Subject Area: Promoting the advancement of dementia research
  • Funding Available: $1,500.00
  • Announcing the Isadore & Margaret Mezey Junior Investigator Travel Award Competition: The Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center is pleased to announce the launch of the Isadore & Margaret Mezey Junior Investigator Travel Award competition. You can click the link above to view the competition page and review the details below as well. Please share with colleagues who may be interested.
  • Description:

The Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center is committed to promoting the advancement of dementia research skills through the provision of training resources. This award will pay for travel expenses associated with participation in national or international conferences focusing on the latest discoveries in neurodegenerative research and clinical practices. Awardees will be junior investigators who have a keen interest in advancing their careers in the dementia field. Awardees will use the award for participation in annual meetings associated with major brain-related associations or societies, including but not limited to the American Neurological Association (ANA), Society for Neuroscience (SFN), American Academy of Neurology, and the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC). Up to two awards per announcement will be determined by a review committee. If you have any questions regarding this application, please contact Ari Bhaumik, email: arijit@umich.edu or Nancy Laracey, email: laracey@umich.edu.

Click here for more information on the competition.

Memory, Aging & Expressive Arts

smSilverClub_04-2015_02The University of Michigan’s Memory, Aging & Expressive Arts (MAEA) course was awarded the 2015 Rosalinde Gilbert Innovations in Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiving Legacy Award!

MAEA, a collaborative program between Professor Anne Mondro, a faculty member in the Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design, and the Silver Club Memory Programs, won a national competition that recognizes outstanding programs helping Alzheimer’s families and caregivers. Each winning program was awarded $20,000 from Family Caregiver Alliance and The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation. The program won in the category of Creative Expression and they will receive the award at the 2016 Aging in America Conference on March 22 in Washington, DC.

The course is scheduled to resume next winter at the University of Michigan, and hopefully for many semesters to come.  To learn more about the course, click here or read more about the award here.

Longer Sentences as you Age?

Study investigates whether conversational interaction style can indicate cognitive impairment


It’s important to know if your mental ability is decreasing as you age.

A lot of money is being spent on sophisticated indicators of dementia. For example, research is increasingly focused on identifying Alzheimer’s disease at the mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, stage, or even earlier (the so-called pre-symptomatic stage). Those patients would then have early access to interventions and clinical trials with the latest treatments.

A pair of U-M researchers, while investigating older people with and without MCI, recently happened upon an observation that could help: the subjects with MCI were very chatty.

MCI is a stage between normal aging and dementia, and a person with MCI has a higher risk of developing dementia.

Principal investigator Hiroko Dodge, Ph.D., with co-investigator Oscar Ybarra, Ph.D., was doing a clinical trial that included daily one-on-one, 30-minute conversations with older people. Half of the people had MCI, and half did not.

This study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, aimed to determine whether these conversations would boost the subjects’ cognitive function and psychological well-being. Social isolation and loneliness are risk factors for developing dementia.

Dodge and Ybarra took notice of the observation, writing a new study to investigate the structure of those conversations. The study finds those with MCI used about 6 percent more words in a conversation than those without it.“The subjects were taking part in consistent social interactions for six weeks,” Ybarra said. “Some of the research assistants, who did not know whether the participants had MCI, started noticing that some participants weren’t really picking up on social cues.”

“This could be due to several reasons,” said Dodge, a professor of neurology at the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center. “One is that people with MCI tend to lose time orientation, so they keep talking, and the interviewer has to interrupt when it’s time to say goodbye,” Dodge said.

Older people experiencing cognitive decline might also have to try several times to find the right word, and repeat their phrasing a few times to define what they’re trying to tell you and gain confidence in their word choices.

“Word count could be one of the early indicators of early stage MCI. If we could find early MCI cases using behavior biomarkers like this, it would be very cost-effective,” Dodge said.

The group plans to continue their research into cognition and aging, including examining how older adults interact with each other in conversation.A social cue like increased word counts is easier for the person’s family to notice and bring up at a doctor’s appointment, hopefully earlier in the process than other testing.

“In the meantime, if you’re really concerned about any of your relatives, you should get them monitored and assessed,” said Ybarra, a U-M psychology professor.


Web-Based Certificate in Advanced Clinical Dementia Practice

This certificate is designed for healthcare professionals, including social workers, nurses, primary care physicians, health educators and administrators who deliver or plan to deliver person and family centered care to people living with memory loss or dementia.  Participants will gain clinical knowledge and skills in culturally competent:

  • assessmentsocial work
  • care planning, and
  • state-of-the-art clinical intervention

Participants will also learn strategies on how to apply these skills during client interactions and link with a multidisciplinary peer distance-learning community to practice new skills and discuss ideas.

This distance-learning certificate offers:

  • 34 hours of continuing education over four months, consisting of
  • 12.5 hours of web-based live instruction, and
  • 21.5 hours of self-paced modules and podcasts

Registration is now open for the Winter 2016 cohort.



Ben Hampstead Receives International Neuropsychological Society Early Career Research Award


The MADC is pleased to announce that Benjamin M. Hampstead, PhD, ABPP-CN was selected to receive the International Neuropsychological Society’s Early Career Research Award! Dr. Hampstead is the MADC’s Clinical Core Leader and Associate Professor in the Neuropsychology Section in the Department of Psychiatry. He is also a Staff Psychologist at the VA Ann Arbor.

The International Neuropsychological Society Awards Committee recognizes an individual each year who has made an essential independent contribution to research in the area of brain-behavior relationships, has a national reputation as recognized by his peers, and has less than ten years post-completion of training.

As this year’s victor, Dr. Hampstead is invited to the International Neuropsychological Society’s February 2016 meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, where he will present on his research and will later be recognized at the annual awards ceremony. Congratulations to Ben on this wonderful and much deserved award!

Recent MADC Research Paper Selected as one of the 2015 Alzheimer’s Association Special Collection Articles

Recent research by the MADC Data Management and Statistical Core Leader, Hiroko Dodge, PhD, and the MADC Research Education Core Leader, Roger Albin, MD, finds that biomarker progressions explain higher variability in stage-specific cognitive decline than baseline values in Alzheimer’s disease.

Dodge tested 526 subjects from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI).  The ADNI is a database used to unite researchers with study data as they work to define the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.  Data from the ADNI was examined to find which components (baseline values or biomarker progressions) are associated with declines in memory and executive cognitive functions, and therefore measure the progression of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and early Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Dodge found that for most biomarkers, biomarker progressions were more associated with cognitive decline than baseline values.  This suggests that clinical trials which require recruiting at-risk subjects could be improved by using progression rather than baseline values in biomarkers to enrich the study subjects.

The paper was selected for the 2015 Alzheimer’s Association Special Collection Articles and can be found at: http://www.alzheimersanddementia.com/AAIC-2015-special-collection.

Congratulations, Hiroko and Roger!

Discover, Connect, Create

UntitledOn October 23rd-November 22nd at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, the University of Michigan’s Silver Club Memory Programs will be displaying it’s member’s artwork in a community engagement course, “Memory, Aging, and Expressive Arts”, offered through the U-M Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design. Come and enjoy the many different ways it’s members have expressed themselves through this exhibition of artwork and creativity. We hope to see you there!

Top Fundraiser in Walk to End Alzheimer’s!

UntitledThe MADC, Geriatrics Center and Neuropsychology joined together to form one U-M team for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Walk to End Alzheimer’s.  Our team was the top fundraiser with over $6,000 in donations!  The walk was held at Washtenaw Community College on Sunday, October 4th,2015.  It was an energetic, well-attended event and our U-M team had a great time supporting our friends at the Alzheimer’s Association, sharing information about the MADC, and walking for an important cause.  Congratulations to the Alzheimer’s Association on a fantastic walk!

Local Children Champion Alzheimer’s Disease Research


Every year Carol Gannon, the 5th grade teacher at Hebrew Day School of Ann Arbor, teaches her students about philanthropy through a year-long project that begins with an application for grant funding from the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation.  This year, the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center (MADC) was the fortunate beneficiary of this project. In the beginning of March, the students successfully applied for the $100 Mini Grant given out by the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation Youth Council.  By March 31st, the students had turned their $100 into over $1000 through numerous fundraising events and a letter-writing campaign soliciting matching donations. On April 28th,  Ms. Gannon’s 5th grade class presented the MADC with a $1,437.55 gift to support MADC research.  These remarkable students from the Hebrew Day School were the only group to use their Mini Grant as seed money to raise additional funds.  The students spoke eloquently of their fundraising experience and their support for the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.  The MADC is very grateful for the contribution and enthusiasm from the Hebrew Day School. We send out a large thanks to all of the students, their parents, those who matched their Mini Grant award, and their teacher Carol Gannon. Ms. Gannon is a tremendous educator and is passionate about the education of her students. She says, “As an educator, I believe strongly in the importance of teaching children about philanthropy.  Over this past year, the Ann Arbor Community Foundation’s Youth
Council and the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center have given us the priceless opportunity to do just that.  They expanded the walls of our classroom by infusing real world experiences into this project, and watching this unfold has been incredibly rewarding. “To read more see our latest newsletter here (PDF).

Congratulations to Laura!

MADC’s Wellness Coordinator featured in Health magazine-

Her tips/advice are featured in slides #12 and #13

MADC’s Henry Paulson on Fox News

New evidence shows exercise can protect from Alzheimer’s

It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and for families dealing with Alzheimer’s it can seem hopeless.

But this story might change your mind.

“Who can tell you about the benefits of laughter?  Ken and Barbara Johnson….We could sit and cry about it or we could try and make the best of it and laugh about it as much as we can,” Barbara said.

It started in 2011 when Ken couldn’t remember his grandson’s name. It wasn’t long before doctors diagnosed ken with mild cognitive impairment.

“I failed miserably,” Ken said. “Just simple words, one-syllable words I couldn’t remember.”

Mild cognitive impairment affects Ken’s memory and judgment and puts him at a higher risk for Alzheimer’s- the most common form of dementia.

“It’s not just a memory, a short-term memory loss,” he said. “It’s a definite personality change, and not for the better.”

Building model boats is one of the hobbies that Ken is determined to hang onto, keeping your mind and body active is critical.

Dr. Henry Paulson, the director of the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center, is optimistic about new evidence showing exercise can protect your brain.

“Use it or lose it,” he said. “If you don’t use parts of your body they start to shrink. We advocate that everyone come up with some sort of exercise.”

Ken and Barb eventually found support at the Alzheimer’s Association and they share their story, hoping for a cure, preparing for the worst.

“I think it’s the loneliest disease in the world,” Barb said. “You can be right there with that person, and the thing you are most afraid of is that the day will come when they don’t recognize you.”

For more information on how you can get involved with the Alzheimer’s Association and the resources available, go to alz.org


MADC in UMHS Headlines

U-M researchers to present at annual Alzheimer’s Association conference in Washington, D.C.

Henry Paulson, M.D.

Several researchers from U-M are in the nation’s capital this week, sharing their findings at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

Presenters include Henry Paulson, M.D.James McNally, Ph.D.,Hiroko Dodge, Ph.D. and Alice Doong, M.S.

Today, Dr. Paulson will discuss Ubiquillin proteins in neurogenerative diseases including Frontotemporal Dementia/Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (FTD/ALS). Research methods include protein biochemistry, cell-based expression studies and mouse models .

Doong’s poster presentation on Tuesday will discuss the effects of age, cognition and fatigue on driving abilities.

“Given that there are a large number of active drivers who may have mild Alzheimer’s or related dementias, we thought it would be interesting to share our results and possibly have discussions about it at this conference,” Doong said.

The work grew out of walking and mobility research her mentors at U-M have been pursuing for some time.

Bruno Giordani, Ph.D., associate director of the Michigan Alzheimer’s Center, and Carol Persad, Ph.D., have recently looked at ways to enhance driving ability and counteract the effects of fatigue in healthy younger and older drivers, along with those with cognitive impairment and dementia.