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Research Grants - 2008


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Research Grants 2008


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2008 Grants - Lee

Bayesian Methods for the Detection, Diagnosis and Treatment of Alzheimer's

Michael D. Lee, Ph.D.
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, California

2008 New Investigator Research Grant

Currently, Alzheimer's disease is diagnosed on the basis of a clinical neurological examination. As a consequence, the disease cannot be definitively diagnosed until it has already caused measurable declines in cognitive function, even though scientists know that the brain pathology characteristic of the disease may have existed for many years. Further complicating this issue is that there are no validated methods for quantifying the severity of disease, monitoring its progression or assessing the effectiveness of disease-modifying treatments. These shortcomings in our knowledge are major hurdles that must be overcome before treatments can be successfully developed and tested in clinical trials.

There are many difficulties involved in developing a reliable diagnostic test for Alzheimer's disease, including the large number of factors that influence cognitive function and pathology and the large number of tests used by different researchers and clinicians to measure various aspects of brain health and function. Bayesian analysis is a statistical method often used for such complex decision-making processes. Michael D. Lee, Ph.D., and colleagues are using Bayesian analysis with the goal of identifying reliable tests that can improve the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and that can be used to monitor progression of the disease or its treatment.

Dr. Lee and colleagues will use available data from databases of normal persons as well as those with various degrees of cognitive impairment. They will use Bayesian analysis to identify imaging, clinical and cognitive tests that accurately diagnose Alzheimer's disease and quantify its severity. This study may lead to the development of methods for early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of cognitive impairment. Such methods would also be valuable for monitoring disease progression and treatment efficacy.