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Headshot of Kathleen Mullan Harris at her desk, holding a textbook and sitting in front of her computer.

Kathleen Mullan Harris and colleagues received a grant to study Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. (photo by Donn Young)

A team led by Kathleen Mullan Harris and Krista M. Perreira at UNC-Chapel Hill and Joseph Hotz and Naomi Duke at Duke University has received a five-year, $25.3 million National Institute of Aging award. The award will help address gaps in our understanding of potential risks for Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease-related dementias.

Alzheimer’s is currently ranked as the seventh leading cause of death in the United States and is the most common cause of dementia among older adults. But there are gaps in our understanding of risk and protective factors across racial and ethnic groups and socioeconomic status.

The new grant builds upon the Add Health Parent Study, an ongoing study of social, behavioral and biological factors influencing healthy aging in a national sample of the baby boom generation, now moving through their late 60s and 70s. Parent study sample members are parents of adult children in the Add Health study who have been followed for 25+ years since adolescence.

“Having longitudinal data on two generations will provide unprecedented research opportunities to understand how intergenerational processes in social conditions, behavior and lifestyle and genomic factors affect cognition and health, “said Harris, the James E. Haar Distinguished Professor of Sociology in the College.

The parent study is part of Add Health, the largest, most comprehensive, nationally representative and longitudinal study of the health of adolescents who have now aged into midlife ever undertaken in the United States.


Published in the Fall 2023 issue | The Scoop

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