The network, established with funding from the National Institutes of Health, has the ultimate goal of developing more effective brain-aging treatments and interventions targeted to the individual.
Led by neuroscientist Carol Barnes, a UArizona Regents Professor of psychology, neurology and neuroscience and a national leader in brain aging research, the program was inspired by the field of precision medicine, which takes into account a person's genetics, lifestyle, environment and other factors to customize care rather than relying on a one-size-fits-all approach.
"You're going to age differently from me, and I'm going to age differently from someone else. We all need a prescription that fits us individually if we are to optimize our cognitive health," said Barnes, who is also a member of the university's BIO5 Institute and director of the UArizona Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute. "We're interested in exploring more deeply: What is a normative aging brain? What are the fundamentals? Because we can't understand the diseases that happen in an aging brain until we understand the fundamentals of what is a generally normative aging brain.
Researchers from the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, Emory University, Johns Hopkins University, Baylor College of Medicine, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Miami and the Phoenix-based Translational Genomics Research Institute, or TGen, an affiliate of City of Hope, will be part of the UArizona-led network. The program will embark on four national-scale research studies designed to better understand the neural mechanisms that account for optimal brain performance in older age and those that underlie age-related cognitive impairment and disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.