Advancing the Health of an Aging Population: Friends of the NIA (FoNIA) Briefing 2017

Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 12.31.50 PMOn Friday, July 7, 2017, Friends of the National Institute on Aging (FoNIA) hosted its annual briefing on ‘Advancing the Health of an Aging Population.’ These briefings provide important updates on the groundbreaking research that is supported by the NIA to promote the health and well-being of older adults. While registration for this meeting is open to the public, it is most heavily attended by representatives of other aging-related organizations, advocacy groups, and staff of Senators and House Representatives.

In addition to a lecture by NIA Director, Richard J. Hodes, MD, and Deputy Director, Marie A. Bernard, MD, this year also featured a presentation by Penn Medicine’s David J. Irwin, MD, MSTR, assistant professor of Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania and clinical neurologist at the Penn FTD Center. Dr. Irwin’s presentation titled “Bringing the microscope to clinic: improving the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders” discussed some of the current challenges of diagnosing Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative conditions and how researchers at Penn and beyond are working to overcome these challenges through a variety of studies. Dr. Irwin also stressed the vital role that NIA and other institutes at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) play in making this research possible.

 “As a junior investigator, this has been a very exciting time for me to start my career with a rapid advance in our understanding of the genetics and pathophysiology of AD and related conditions – these advances would not be possible without publicly-funded programs through the NIA, NINDS and other institutes at NIH,” said Dr. Irwin. “I am very enthusiastic and thankful to have the opportunity to help advocate for the mission of the NIA, as this directly leads to the improvement in the care of patients I treat with AD and related disorders.”

Full presentation slides:

Kathy Jedrziewski, PhD, Deputy Director of the Institute on Aging, is the current Chair of Friends of the NIA (FoNIA). For more information on FoNIA, click here

Full 2017 FoNIA Briefing Flyer

The 14th Annual Jane Wright Symposium on Parkinson’s Disease for Patients and Caregivers

Published by Benjamin Deck, Udall Coordinator 

The 14th annual Jane Wright conference was held on June 15th at the Sheraton Hotel on City Line Avenue in Philadelphia, PA. The Jane Wright conference is an annual symposium that brings together the local Parkinson’s community to hear presentations around a central theme and to make people with Parkinson’s (PwP) and their loved ones aware of available resources. The theme this year was, “Hot Topics in Parkinson’s Disease” and the attendance reached an all-time high of over 200 people.

Professor Emeritus of Neurology, Dr. Matthew Stern, MD opened the conference with his lecture on Parkinson’s history and discussed updates to James Parkinson’s original definition of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Some of the issues Dr. Stern outlined were disparate pathologies in PD, PD subtypes, and the idea that current diagnostic criteria do not allow for early diagnosis in PD. One precluding factor of early diagnosis is that motor symptoms are typically not present until later stages of the disease.

The second speaker was the newly appointed Director of Medicine at the Penn Neurological Institute, Dr. Andrew Siderowf, MD. Dr. Siderowf presented new therapeutics in PD such as Safinamide, Rytary, Droxidopa, and Primavanserin. Dr. Siderowf’s presentation also touched on newer surgical interventions for PD such as Focused Ultrasound and Duopa. The presentation then focused on disease modifying procedures and medications that are currently under development, i.e. gene therapy, alpha synuclein anti-body trials, and treatments specialized for specific genetic mutations in PD. View his presentation here.

Assistant Professor of Neurology, Dr. Lama Chahine, MD, spoke of biomarkers and the crucial role that they will play in the diagnosis, prognostication, and treatment of PD. Dr. Chahine made the compelling case for further research on biomarkers in PD by showing the subjectivity of in-clinic motor exams, which are currently the gold standard for a PD diagnosis in movement disorder clinics. Dr. Chahine emphasized that biomarker discovery in cerebral spinal fluid (CSF), blood, and tissue sampling (collected most recently for this trial), could one day diagnose patients earlier and/or better treat the disease.

The final speaker at this year’s Jane Wright Conference was Movement Disorders Fellow, Dr. Michelle Fullard, MD. Dr. Fullard’s presentation outlined the recent technological advances that are helping to deliver better and more accessible treatments. Telemedicine has been implemented in many clinics and decreases travel burden for PD patients who often find this to be a barrier to quality care. Telemedicine allows physicians to remotely diagnose and treat individuals through the use of telecommunications technology. Dr. Fullard also discussed wearable devices that can track a PD patient’s movements through the use of accelerometers and other such technology. The hope its that these devices would allow movement disorder specialists to better understand the motor complications of their patients.

JW Symposium 2017 picture

Lastly, Dr. Stern was awarded an Proclamation signed by Mayor Jim Kenney that decrees April as Parkinson’s Awareness Month in Philadelphia. The proclamation was presented by Ms. Lori Katz and a represenative from Mayor Kenney’s office (pictured above).

View all presentation slides here.

 

Genetics of Aging-Related Neurodegeneration: The Sylvan M. Cohen Annual Retreat & Poster Session 2017

077On Tuesday, May 23, 2017, the Institute on Aging (IOA) hosted their annual Sylvan M. Cohen Retreat and Poster Session in collaboration with co-sponsors, the Penn Neurodegeneration Genomics Center (PNGC).

The 2017 retreat focused on the ‘Genetics of Aging-related Neurodegeneration’ and for the second year in a row, it began with opening remarks from the Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine, J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD. “I’m mainly here to thank you for your scientific collaboration,” said Dean Jameson. He used this time to express the importance and impact of these contributions in the field of genetics and aging, especially in trying to solve the puzzle of very complex conditions such as neurodegeneration.

Lectures were presented by Penn’s Gerard (Jerry) D. Schellenberg, PhD, Director of the PNGC, Adam Naj, PhD, Assistant professor of Epidemiology in Biostatistics and Epidemiology, and Nancy Zhang, PhD, Assistant professor of Statistics, as well as this year’s keynote speaker, Philip De Jager, MD, PhD, Associate Neurologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Associate Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School.

Lectures:

  • “Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics; Progress in Gene Therapy” – Jerry Schellenberg, PhD
  • “Genetic Risk Factors Associated with Coincident Alzheimer’s and Parkinson Disease in Neuropathologically Confirmed Cases” – Adam Naj, PhD
  • “Structural Variant Profiling in Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics” – Nancy Zhang, PhD
  • “The molecular network map of the aging cortex: v1.0: an integrative approach targets the epigenomic and inflammatory components of Tau pathology” – Philip De Jager, MD, PhD

As usual, the event concluded with the annual poster session on aging. Prizes were awarded to the top posters in each of the following categories: Basic Science and Clinical Research/Education & Community.

Poster Winners:

BASIC SCIENCE:

1st Place:

172Title: “Integrative analysis identifies immune-related enhancers and IncRNAs perturbed by genetic variants associated with Alzheimer’s disease”
Presenter: Alexandre Amlie-Wolf
Authors: Alexandre Amlie-Wolf, Mitchell Tang, Jessica King, Beth Dombroski, Elizabeth Mlynarski,Yi-Fan Chou, Gerard D. Schellenberg, Li-San Wang
Affiliation(s): University of Pennsylvania, Genomics and Computational Biology Graduate Group

2nd Place:

173Title: “Differential Vulnerability to a-synuclein Pathology Among Neuronal Subpopulations”
Presenter: Luna Esteban
Authors: Luna Esteban, Dawn M. Riddle, Virginia M.Y. Lee, Kelvin C. Luk
Affiliation(s): Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research

 


Clinical Research/Education & Community

1st Place:

175Title: “Correlates of Sleep Indices Among Community Dwelling Older Adults Enrolled in a Collaborative Care Management Program”
Presenter: Ashik Ansar
Authors: Ashik Ansar, MD, PhD, Shahrzad Mavandadi, PhD, Kristin Foust, Suzanne DiFilippo, RN, Joel E.. Streim, MD, David W. Oslin, MD
Affiliation(s): Department of Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

2nd Place:

176Title: “The Impact of Cognitive Reserve and Brain Atrophy on Survival in Neurodegenerative Diseases”
Presenter: Carrie Caswell
Authors: Carrie Caswell, MS (1), Sharon X. Xie, PhD (1), Murray Grossman, MD, EdD (1), Corey T. McMillan, PhD (1), Lauren M. Massimo, PhD, CRNP (1,2)
Affiliation(s): (1) University of Pennsylvania, (2) Penn State University

To view the full lectures from the 2017 Sylvan M. Cohen Annual Retreat, click here.

To view more photos from the 2017 Sylvan M. Cohen Annual Retreat, click here.

 

Penn’s CNDR celebrates 25 years of groundbreaking research with the supporters and friends who make it all possible

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-3-01-13-pmThis year, the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research is celebrating its 25th anniversary in a big way. Penn Medicine organized an intimate anniversary event generously hosted by longtime supporters and friends of CNDR, Bob Lane, an Institute on Aging External Advisory Board (IOA EAB) member, and his wife Randi Zemsky, at their home in the Rittenhouse Square section of Philadelphia. 

 

The event celebrated the groundbreaking work of CNDR over the past 25 years and highlighted research breakthroughs still on the horizon. It was also an opportunity to bring together and thank many of the center’s supporters. The event was attended by David B. Roth, MD, PhD, Chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, CNDR researchers, IOA EAB members, supporters of the Center and close friends of the hosts.

Stay tuned for our special edition CNDR 25th Anniversary Newsletter coming early next year.

“To sleep, per chance to age… and avoid Alzheimer’s disease”: A recap of the 2016 Sylvan M. Cohen Annual Retreat

On Wednesday, June 8, 2016, the Institute on Aging hosted its annual Sylvan M. Cohen Retreat and Poster Session. This year’s retreat, titled “To sleep, per chance to age… and avoid Alzheimer’s disease,” was co-sponsored by Penn’s Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology and explored the effects of sleep loss and it’s possible link to Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative conditions.

corrected_DJquoteAs usual, the event began with lunch and a series of lectures, but this year we had the pleasure of having J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, dean of the Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM), join us for opening remarks.

He expressed his excitement to see such collaboration amongst the two sponsoring centers and encouraged more of this, not only in the PSOM, but also across the University as a whole. “One of the secrets at Penn Medicine is that we have these catalytic centers and institutes and it’s even more impressive that there is often cross fertilization between them,” explained Dean Jameson.

corrected_DJquote&pic.png

Keynote speaker, David M. Holtzman, MD, professor and chairman, Department of Neurology at Washington University School of Medicine, kicked off the lectures by discussing his research in “Understanding the Relationships between Sleep, Protein Aggregation, and Alzheimer’s disease.”

Other topics, covered by our Penn Presenters, included (click for video interviews):

Immediately following the lectures, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and beyond presented their current aging-related work at our annual Poster Session. Categories included basic science, clinical research, & education and community and awards were given to the top posters.

Poster Winners

BASIC SCIENCE

1st Place
BasicSciecne1Enhancing a WNT-telomere feedback loop restores intestinal stem cell function in a human organotypic model of dyskeratosis congenita
Presenter: Dong-Hun Woo
Authors: Dong-Hun Woo, Qijun Chen, Ting-Lin B. Yang, M. Rebecca Glineburg, Carla Hoge, Nicolae A. Leu, F. Brad Johnson, and Christopher J. Lengner

 

2nd Place
BasicSciecne2AB Plaques Mediate Neuritic Plaque-like Tau Pathology that is Distinct from Perikaryal Tau Inclusions
Presenters: Zhuohao He
Authors: Zhuohao He, Jing L. Guo, Jennifer D. McBride, Lakshmi Changolkar, Bin Zhang, Ronald J. Gathagan, Hyesung Kim, Sneha Narasimhan, Kurt R. Brunden, John Q. Trojanowski, Virginia M.-Y. Lee


CLINICAL RESEARCH and EDUCATION & COMMUNITY *

1st Place
ClinRes1Tau Pathology Influences Dementia Onset and Survival in Lewy Body Spectrum Disorders
Presenter: David Irwin
Authors: David J. Irwin, MD MSTR, Murray Grossman MD, Daniel Weintraub MD, Howard I. Hurtig MD, John E. Duda MD, Sharon X. Xie PhD, Edward B. Lee MD PhD, Vivianna M. Van Deerlin MD, PhD,Oscar L. Lopez MD, Julia K. Kofler MD, Peter T. Nelson, MD PhD, Randy Woltjer MD PhD, Joseph F. Quinn MD, Jeffery Kaye MD, James B Leverenz MD, Debby Tsuang MD, MSc, Katelan Longfellow MD, Dora Yearout BS, Walter Kukull PhD, C. Dirk Keene MD, PhD, Thomas J. Montine MD, PhD, Cyrus P. Zabetian MD MS, John Q. Trojanowski MD PhD

2nd Place
ClinRes2Clinical Profile of Older Adults with Mild or No Cognitive Impairment Who Receive Prescriptions for Cholinesterase Inhibitors and/or Memantine: A descriptive study from the PACE/PACENET BHL Caregiver Resources, Education and Support (CREST) Program
Presenter: Romika Dhar, MD
Authors: Romika Dhar, MD; Amy Benson, MSEd; Joel E. Streim, MD; David W. Oslin, MD

* Due to the number of posters submitted, the categories for Clinical Research and Education & Community were combined.

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 10.40.42 AM

To view some of the full lectures from our retreat, click here.
* Please note: Some of the lectures are not available to view due to unpublished data being presented *

View more photos from our 2016 Sylvan M. Cohen Retreat Facebook album here.

Penn Medicine’s Town Hall Meeting on ADRD Funding Opportunities

On Wednesday, June 1, 2016, the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine’s Institute on Aging (IOA), Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research (CNDR), and Penn Translational Neuroscience Center (PTNC) co-hosted their first Town Hall Meeting, open to all interested University of Pennsylvania researchers.

The idea behind this joint effort is to increase the awareness and knowledge of the variety of available National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding opportunities relating to Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD) and the neurosciences, with many already underway here at Penn.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 2.42.49 PM“In the last five years, NIH funding [for ADRD research] increased from $450 million to
nearly $1 billion,” explained John Q. Trojanowski, MD, PhD, IOA Director and CNDR Co-Director. “People who are not working in ADRD can get involved in this field. Penn is a hotbed of aging research, but there is always room to do more.”

Back in February of this year, NIA Director, Dr. Richard Hodes, MD paid a visit to the University of Pennsylvania to hear from Penn researchers and clinicians working in the fields of aging and neuroscience as well as immunology. During this visit, Dr. Hodes addressed many questions regarding the $2 billion NIH budget increase — with more than $350 million specifically earmarked for Alzheimer’s research — which was announced just a month prior. In response, Dr. Hodes broadly recommended and stressed the importance of making any and all connections to ADRD explicitly emphasized in upcoming proposals, without being misleading.

With that in mind, the main goal of this Town Hall Meeting was to encourage and welcome more collaboration across the Perelman School of Medicine within these areas of research — particularly with those whose past research has not yet explored such topics.

John Q. Trojanowski, MD, PhD discusses the goals and benefits of the Town Hall Meeting on ADRD Funding Opportunities:

 

Frances E. Jensen, MD, FACP discusses Neurosciences at Penn – Opportunities Overview:

 

Jerry Schellenberg, PhD discusses the new Penn Neurodegeneration Genomics Center and related resources at Penn:

 

For more information on the Town Hall Meeting, including a list of speakers, presentations, funding opportunities, current ADRD Grants at Penn, and more, click here.

Joseph A. Pignolo Award in Aging Research 2015: “REST and Stress Resistance in Aging and Alzheimer’s Research”

On Tuesday, March 1, 2016, the Institute on Aging presented their annual Joseph A. Pignolo Award in Aging Research. This year’s awardee was Bruce A. Yankner, MD, PhD, professor of Genetics and Neurology and Co-director of the Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at Harvard Medical School, for his 2014 publication in Nature on “REST and Stress Resistance in Aging and Alzheimer’s Research.

IMG_0014

John Q. Trojanowski, MD, PhD (IOA Director), Bruce A. Yankner, MD, PhD (2016 Pignolo Awardee), and Robert J. Pignolo, MD, PhD (founder of the Pignolo Award in Aging Research).

This paper analyzes the gene expression changes that occur in the aging brain and shows the coherent pattern of changes in genes that turn on or off in the neurons of the brain as it ages. The greatest impact was seen in the REST (RE1 neuron-silencing transcription factor) gene. It was previously thought that this gene only functioned in fetal brain development—keeping neural genes at bay until the brain had a chance to build its underlying architecture—however, Dr. Yankner and his team found that it is also expressed in the adult human brain and is dramatically up-regulated in neurons as the brain ages. The significance of this in neurodegenerative research is that they discovered that in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, the protein is actually much less up-regulated, or completely absent.

Using both mouse models and culture dishes in a laboratory, they found that regular stressors encountered by an aging brain such as oxidative stress—a disturbance in the balance between the production of reactive oxygen species and antioxidant defenses—and amyloid stress associated with AD had a significant impact on sustaining the REST gene.

“This was a galvanizing observation for us,” explained Dr. Yankner. “It suggested that some people can resist the onslaught of Alzheimer’s because they’re able to up-regulate this intrinsic defense mechanism [REST]. So, a very important question is why some people can do it and some people can’t…”

Dr. Yankner assumes there is a potential genetic underpinning, but also believes that environmental factors contribute as well.

In terms of future research, and based on their current findings, Dr. Yankner and his lab are interested in understanding exactly how REST accomplishes its different functions and manages to maintain neurons in a functional state for so many years. To do this, they are characterizing all of the genes and protein partners that interact with REST and are looking at them as potential therapeutic targets that may be used to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

View more photos from the 2016 Joseph A. Pignolo Award in Aging Research.

*This study was funded by the National Institute on Aging, the National Institutes of Health Common Fund (NCF), and the Paul F. Glenn Foundation for Medical Research.

 The main focuses of Dr. Yankner’s lab are to understand 1) the molecular biology of the aging brain and how that intersects with pathological aging in diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD) and Frontotemporal degeneration (FTD) and 2) using humans as a model system by understanding how they age in the brain, from changes in genes, DNA, and proteins, and modeling this in cells in culture and genetically engineered model systems including C. elegans (Caenorhabditis elegans) nematode worms.

The Joseph A. Pignolo, Sr. Award in Aging Research is given out as part of the Institute on Aging (IOA) Visiting Scholars series to annually recognize an outstanding contribution to the field of biogerontology. It was created by geriatrician and gerontologist Robert J. Pignolo, M.D., Ph.D. in honor of his father.