The Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center’s Research Education Component Core, led by Drs. Roger Albin and Peter Lichtenberg, is dedicated to training and mentoring junior investigators entering the field of dementia research. This mentorship program educates junior investigators broadly on contemporary dementia research, and provides guidance from experienced investigators in developing competitive grant applications. Our first class of mentees began in January of 2017, and these trainees experienced tremendous success in the past year.
HwaJung Choi, PhD • University of Michigan
Dr. HwaJung Choi is an Assistant Research Scientist in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan. Her research interests include healthcare utilization and healthcare costs of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia. In particular, Dr. Choi is interested in the influence of family-care availability on healthcare utilization by older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and in assessing the full array of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia care costs to individuals, family caregivers, and the public.
In the last year, Dr. Choi received funding for both a research grant and a career development award from the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Choi published several research articles in the past year, and has been invited to give talks at the Health and Retirement Study Research-in-Progress Seminar and the Trends in Dementia conference.
Ben Combs, PhD • Michigan State University
Dr. Ben Combs is an Assistant Professor in Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine. He studies the tau protein in order to better understand its role in the initiation and progression of Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias. By gaining a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underpin tau’s role in Alzheimer’s disease, he hopes to identify better targets for future potential therapies.
As a Junior Investigator, Dr. Combs published three research papers on tau and presented his work at various conferences, including the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center’s Research Symposium and the Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease conference. He also submitted grant applications to the Alzheimer’s Association, the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center pilot project program, and the National Institutes of Health.
Jessica Damoiseaux, PhD • Wayne State University
Dr. Jessica Damoiseaux is an Assistant Professor in the Institute of Gerontology and the Department of Psychology at Wayne State University. Her main research goal is to understand the changes in brain function and cognition that accompany normal and abnormal aging. She is particularly interested in examining the influence of biological and cognitive predisposition on cognitive and brain network connectivity changes in healthy older adults.
In the last year, Dr. Damoiseaux was awarded pilot funding from the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center with additional pilot funds awarded by the University of Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research. Dr. Damoiseaux also published three research papers, and submitted several grant applications including two to the National Institutes of Health.
Wassim Tarraf, PhD • Wayne State University
Dr. Wassim Tarraf is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Gerontology and Department of Healthcare Sciences, and faculty in the Masters of Public Health program at Wayne State University. His research evaluates disparities in health, health behavior, and healthcare access and use among racial and ethnic minorities in the United States. He also investigates the social determinants of health and healthcare.
As a Junior Investigator, Dr. Tarraf was highly productive, co-authoring 13 papers and receiving grant awards from the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health.
Jiayu Zhou, PhD • Michigan State University
Dr. Jiayu Zhou is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Michigan State University. He has a broad research interest in large-scale machine learning and data mining, and biomedical informatics. Specifically, Dr. Zhou builds high-performance machine learning models that understand Alzheimer’s progression and identify signaling biomarkers from multiple data sources including medical imaging, genotypes, and other clinical information. Dr. Zhou received funding for two National Science Foundation grants, including a highly prestigious National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award.
He has been a remarkably productive scholar, co-authoring 14 articles in the last year alone. Dr. Zhou also presented his work across the globe: in New York, Beijing, Tokyo, and Rolla, Missouri. Lastly, upon receiving the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center’s Mezey Junior Investigator Travel Award, Dr. Zhou presented at the 20th Annual International Conference on Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention in Quebec, Canada.
Please join us in congratulating this group of scholars on their great work this past year!
Pictured left to right: Wassim Tarraf, Ben Combs, Jessica Damoiseaux, Jiayu Zhou, HwaJung Choi.