“The general thinking currently is that amyloid clumps associated with plaques play a particularly early role in the progress of the disease, so if that’s right and we’re attacking them and preventing them from occurring in the first place, it should have a pretty profound effect,” he said. 

One of the unique things about the conference is that it brings together experts from different specialties, backgrounds and research areas within the Alzheimer’s and related dementias field.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to be steeped in the cutting edge of Alzheimer's disease-related research as a person who works closely with people living with Alzheimer's, as well as their family and friends who assist them," said David Coon, associate dean of ASU’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation and director of ASU’s Center for Innovation in Healthy and Resilient Aging.

In his work, Coon designs and evaluates interventions focusing on culturally diverse groups of midlife and older adults and their family caregivers to reduce stress and distress and conduct effective care planning.

“I’m committed to research that leads the way toward prevention, treatment, cures and better care,” he said. 

It’s fitting that the conference falls in September, which is healthy aging month, given that cognitive health is central to overall health as we age.

“If you woke up this morning, you got a day older, and we want to understand how to make that day the best day of your life. That’s really important for avoiding all types of disease, but especially Alzheimer’s, where age is the number one risk factor,” said Matt Huentelman, TGen professor of neurogenomics.

Huentelman’s research uses genomic technologies to better understand personalized neurological disease risk and mechanisms. He’s the scientist behind MindCrowd, an online research study designed to analyze how brain performance changes with age.

So far, more than 415,000 people have participated in the study. Huentelman is hoping to reach 1 million people and is working with the Precision Aging Network to make it happen. 

“I’m really pleased to be involved in the Precision Aging Network, where we are focused on people who don’t yet have Alzheimer’s disease. They may never have the disease, but we’re trying to understand what might happen individually with those people and learn how we can keep their brains functioning as well as possible for as long as possible,” he said. 

Amanda Goodman

Senior communications specialist, Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation