Michigan State University grows dementia research infrastructure in west Michigan

Our partners at Michigan State University in Grand Rapids are making great strides in the field. Dr. Dave Morgan, Professor of Translational Neuroscience at Michigan State University, was recruited two years ago to initiate a dementia clinical research operation in west Michigan. In doing so, he created the Alzheimer’s Alliance, a collaboration of faculty and volunteers united in this goal. His work has grown tremendously in just two years, and the future potential is exciting for our state.

Dr. Morgan’s efforts began with a community-based memory screening program. This program brings trained individuals to various sites in the region to test concerned individuals’ memory and cognition. The purpose is to address the concern that only 40% of adults living with dementia actually receive a formal diagnosis. Memory screening can also be helpful in identifying those at risk at an early stage of the disease when medications are most effective, and when clinical trials are most commonly targeted. There are now 26 sites in the greater Grand Rapids area that are conducting memory screenings.

A second component to Dr. Morgan’s work is a new prevention trial based on the understanding that brain games help with cognition, attention, and overall health. This trial, the Preventing Alzheimer’s with Cognitive Training (PACT) trial, tests if certain computer games can prevent or even delay onset of mild cognitive impairment (a precursor to dementia) or dementia. If you or a family member resides in the Grand Rapids area and are interested in participating, please contact the PACT team at msupact@gmail.com or 616-234-0952.

Dr. Dave Morgan

The third, and currently in progress, project is the recruitment of clinical trials to west Michigan. Grand Rapids is the second largest city in Michigan and the 50th largest city in the country, and yet does not offer a single dementia-related clinical trial. Dr. Morgan and his team are working diligently with consultants from national groups including Us Against Alzheimer’s and Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation to build the infrastructure to support clinical trials.

Dementia resources have already grown tremendously in Grand Rapids in the last two years, thanks to the work of Dr. Morgan and his collegues. When asked about his ultimate goal, he shared, “I would love to see a full facility dedicated to this work. It would be called the Center for Aging Brain Care.”

To read more about Dr. Morgan’s work, please visit alzheimersalliance.msu.edu.