<< Back

2018 Alzheimer's Association Research Grant to Promote Diversity (AARG-D)

Taking it to the extreme: The search for modifiers of cognitive decline

What genes and lifestyle factors contribute to the age of Alzheimer’s onset?

Yakeel Quiroz
Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, MA - United States


 Individuals with a variation of the gene presenilin-1 (PSEN1) develop an early-onset form of Alzheimer’s. Dr. Yakeel Quiroz has been working with a population of people in Antioquia, Colombia, which includes 1,800 individuals with the PSEN1 gene variation; these individuals start to show symptoms of Alzheimer’s at approximately 44 years of age. However, some individuals with this PSEN1 gene variation develop symptoms earlier or later than others. As a result, Dr. Quiroz believes that these individuals may have other genes or lifestyle practices that increase or decrease the rate of symptom onset.

Research Plan

Dr. Quiroz proposes to follow three groups of individuals from the population in Colombia: those with the PSEN1 variation who develop Alzheimer’s at the anticipated age of onset, those with the PSEN1 variation who develop Alzheimer’s earlier or later than expected, and those without the PSEN1 variation. The researchers will note differences in brain structure (using brain scans), measures of cognition, lifestyle factors, and genes between the three groups.


Focusing on the differences between individuals who are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s (have the PSEN1 gene variation, in this study), but who do so either earlier or later than expected may reveal genetic and environmental factors that increase the risk of the or are protective against  Alzheimer’s. These factors may be useful for predicting the onset of Alzheimer’s or for developing therapeutic approaches to slow the development of the Alzheimer’s.

Back to Top