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University of Michigan scientists conducting innovative research with new funding from Alzheimer's Association

University of Michigan scientists conducting innovative research with new funding from Alzheimer's Association
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April 23, 2020
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Exciting research that seeks to reduce hospital readmission and develop novel therapeutic strategies for patients living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia (ADRD) will be explored by University of Michigan scientists Elham Mahmoudi, Ph.D., and Indranil Malik, Ph.D., recipients of 2020 International Research Grant Program awards from the Alzheimer’s Association. 

A “New to the Field” grant provides Dr. Mahmoudi $150,000 over three years to look at developing an at-risk assessment tool for predicting readmissions to the hospital for people with ADRD. Dr. Mahmoudi will aim to tailor the care coordination and discharge processes according to specific risks of readmission for this vulnerable patient population. 

“Patients with ADRD are at higher risk of hospitalization and 30-day readmission compared to other older adults,” Dr. Mahmoudi said. “Readmission is expensive and increases the risk of institutionalization and premature death among ADRD patients. This is a critically important area because the prevalence of ADRD is growing so rapidly it is difficult to find unaffected families.”

She added, “Several members of my family have been recently diagnosed with ADRD. I am very excited about this new study.”

A fellowship award provides Dr. Malik $175,000 over three years to further his study of fundamental mechanisms of gene expression in relation to human disease, specifically neurodegenerative disorders. By investigating unusual repetitive RNA patterns that hinder normal cell activity and cause cell death, he aims to develop novel therapeutic strategies to treat patients with ADRD and other related conditions.

“I am particularly interested in Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementia, such as frontotemporal dementia (FTD),” he said. “The tools I develop during this study can be applied to many repeat expansion disorders. I believe using my approach we can possibly find common causes underlying multiple repeat expansion disorders that can be targeted therapeutically.”

The Alzheimer’s Association is the largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s research in the world. The Association is currently investing $167 million in more than 500 active best-of-field projects in 27 countries.

Attracting brilliant and innovative scientists to the Alzheimer’s field is a major goal of the Alzheimer’s Association Research Grant and Fellowship Awards. The program funds primarily early-career scientists working on new ideas in Alzheimer’s research. The hope is that this will lead to future grant applications to government and other funding sources, including larger grants available through the Alzheimer's Association. The Association makes it a high priority to support researchers from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.

“The only way we will achieve a world without Alzheimer’s is through research. Funding research by scientists such as Dr. Mahmoudi and Dr. Malik not only supports these critical projects but is part of a broader Alzheimer’s Association effort to keep the best and brightest scientists working on this disease,” said Jennifer Lepard, President and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association - Greater Michigan Chapter. 

The Research Grant and Fellowship Awards are part of the broader Alzheimer’s Association International Research Grant Program. Alzheimer’s Association funding has led to some of the most important research breakthroughs, including the first Alzheimer’s drug studies and the ability to visualize amyloid plaque buildup in the living brain. 

Dr. Mahmoudi is a health economist with a keen interest in health services research. She has extensive expertise in applying econometrics modeling and using large secondary datasets to examine treatment variation, healthcare costs and related health outcome measures. Her other health services research interests encompass disability and health care disparities and the economics of aging. She earned her Ph.D. in Economics from Wayne State University and joined the University of Michigan as a postdoctoral fellow. She works as an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Malik joined the University of Michigan Todd lab as a postdoctoral fellow in the fall of 2017 after finishing his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics with Craig Kaplan at Texas A&M University. Dr. Malik, who earned a bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine in India, currently explores the roles of RNA structure in repeat expansion disorders in the U-M Todd lab.   

Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. It kills more Americans than diabetes and more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. More than 5 million Americans – including more than 190,000 in Michigan – are living with Alzheimer’s disease, a number that is projected to nearly triple by 2050 to nearly 14 million. 

For more information, visit the Alzheimer’s Association at 

Alzheimer's Association

The Alzheimer's Association leads the way to end Alzheimer's and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's and all other dementia.™ For more information, visit or call the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.

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