Public Release: 

FAU receives $3 million grant for dementia prevention initiative

Florida Atlantic University

By 2050 about 16 million Americans and 60 million people worldwide will be affected by Alzheimer's disease (AD) and related disorders. Risk factors for dementia include age, vascular and metabolic conditions, and inflammation. To date, pharmacologic approaches only offer modest benefits to help address one of the world's most pervasive and devastating disorders.

A leading neuroscientist at Florida Atlantic University's Schmidt College of Medicine has received a $3 million, three-year grant from The Harry T. Mangurian, Jr. Foundation to expand the scope and reach of the Dementia Prevention Initiative (DPI).

Launched in 2017 with a $1 million grant from The Harry T. Mangurian, Jr. Foundation, FAU's DPI has received widespread interest and is now a large longitudinal study of brain aging and dementia. This new grant will enable FAU to continue research and follow patients for an additional three years, to share data with other investigators, to provide training, and to distribute information publicly.

Developed by James E. Galvin, M.D., M.P.H., principal investigator and director of FAU's Comprehensive Center for Brain Health in the Schmidt College of Medicine, the DPI uses the latest advances in genetics, biology and the molecular bases of disease and incorporates personalized and tailor-made evaluation and prevention plans to reduce risk.

In this program, Galvin and his team are examining novel biomarkers and peripheral predictors of disease such as physical performance, retinal imaging using optical coherence tomography, and gait analyses. They also are working with companies to develop novel blood tests to improve diagnosis and prediction.

"If we can identify changes in physical activity and gait, examine retinal and visual tests as well as blood-based markers, this information may provide insight into those individuals at-risk for disease who are likely to progress to clinically detectable symptoms," said Galvin.

AD most likely begins years prior to the detection of clinical symptoms, yet preclinical and pre-dementia states are difficult to detect due to the absence of expensive and invasive biomarkers.

"This gift reflects our longstanding confidence in the University's and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine's efforts in dementia prevention research and the resulting personalized treatment plans that Dr. Galvin and his team have developed," said Stephen G. Mehallis, president of the Harry T. Mangurian, Jr. Foundation. "Moreover, the gift also will enable sharing the information generated from the Dementia Prevention Initiative with investigators from other institutions through hosting events and attracting world renowned scientists."

Although the single greatest risk factor for AD is age, AD is not inevitable. It is estimated that at age 85 there is a 42 percent risk of developing AD, which means that 58 percent of older adults do not develop dementia, even if amyloid can be detected in the brain. The reasons are unknown, but may be explained in part by a host of modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors. Up to 30 percent of AD cases may be preventable through modification of risk factors and behavioral changes to mitigate the effect of those risk factors that can't be modified.

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Individuals interested in participating in the DPI can call 561-297-0164 or email healthybrain@health.fau.edu for more information.

The Harry T. Mangurian, Jr. Foundation was established by the late Harry and Dorothy Mangurian to provide support to medical, educational and environmental organizations, nationally and internationally. The Mangurians resided in both Ocala and Fort Lauderdale, from where Harry managed his various business interests including real estate development, furniture retailing, professional sports (including ownership of the NBA's Boston Celtics) as well as Mockingbird Farm, which became a world-renowned thoroughbred racing and breeding operation. Dorothy passed away in 2015 after a long battle with Lewy Body Dementia.

About the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine:

FAU's Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine is one of approximately 152 accredited medical schools in the U.S. The college was launched in 2010, when the Florida Board of Governors made a landmark decision authorizing FAU to award the M.D. degree. After receiving approval from the Florida legislature and the governor, it became the 134th allopathic medical school in North America. With more than 70 full and part-time faculty and more than 1,300 affiliate faculty, the college matriculates 64 medical students each year and has been nationally recognized for its innovative curriculum. To further FAU's commitment to increase much needed medical residency positions in Palm Beach County and to ensure that the region will continue to have an adequate and well-trained physician workforce, the FAU Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine Consortium for Graduate Medical Education (GME) was formed in fall 2011 with five leading hospitals in Palm Beach County. In June 2014, FAU's College of Medicine welcomed its inaugural class of 36 residents in its first University-sponsored residency in internal medicine and graduated its first class of internal medicine residents in 2017.

About Florida Atlantic University:

Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU's world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of critical areas that form the basis of its strategic plan: Healthy aging, biotech, coastal and marine issues, neuroscience, regenerative medicine, informatics, lifespan and the environment. These areas provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU's existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit http://www.fau.edu.

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