Health & Fitness

UM researcher studies genetic clues on why Alzheimer’s affects women more than men

University of Miami researchers attended the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Los Angeles to share and learn the latest information about dementia studies.
University of Miami researchers attended the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Los Angeles to share and learn the latest information about dementia studies. University of Miami John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics

Scientists from the University of Miami John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics were part of a worldwide gathering of researchers in mid-July where the latest in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia studies were shared.

The annual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference is the largest and most influential meeting of its kind. Researchers traveled from over 70 countries to attend.

UM’s Anthony J. Griswold and Brian Kunkle joined a group of 50 researchers from around Florida who attended.

Kunkle presented his research that analyzed genetics for clues as to why Alzheimer’s affects women more than men.

“Our study strongly supports the hypothesis that some genetic factors contributing to Alzheimer disease are not identical for men and women. Understanding the different genetic risk profiles for Alzheimer disease between men and women could provide information critical for the development of effective precision medicines, and could improve diagnosis, prediction and prevention practices,” Kunkle said.

Griswold said it’s important to him as a geneticist to attend the conference because of the wealth of information that is presented. His work focuses on “understanding Alzheimer’s genetics of diverse individuals and ethnic minorities.”

“Our study is investigating the hypothesis that individuals of diverse ancestries (e.g. African Americans, Hispanics) have different underlying genetic factors leading to disease. This has been known for some time that the primary genetic risk factor for AD (APOEe4) has different effects in individuals of European (higher risk) vs. African (lower risk) ancestries.

“The overall goal of this type of study is to ensure that genetic discoveries made in AD can be applied to individuals’ diverse ancestral backgrounds — such as seen in South Florida — with the hope of improving precision diagnosis and treatment to all Alzheimer’s patients,” Griswold said.

To learn more about groundbreaking research and the awards presented at the conference, visit www.alz.org/aaic/.

Scholarships awarded

Since 2009, the Lori Brener Scholarship Fund has raised more than $400,000 for scholarships awarded to “Littles” in any of the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs.

More money than ever was awarded this year, and to the largest group of students, said Miriam Salazar.

Salazar, Lori Brener’s mother, is a longtime supporter of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami. They worked together to help Miami’s youth until Brener’s death in 2009. Salazar continues through the scholarship fund named for her daughter.

“Close to $70,000 in scholarships were given out this year, the most ever, thanks to our very successful Bollywood Event,” Salazar said.

The funds were given to 13 new students who are doing extremely well in their studies, she said. Five renewals were also awarded.

The scholarships were presented at the New World Symphony in Miami Beach during the annual Big Brothers Big Sisters graduation ceremony.

Some of the scholarship recipients have participated in the “Big in Blue” one-to-one mentoring program by police officers in municipalities throughout Miami.

“The program has been so influential to our students that several of our recipients are majoring in criminology; cybersecurity; and criminal justice because of their mentoring,” Salazar said.

Plans are now being made for the 2020 fundraiser. Learn more and find out how to donate to the Lori Brener Scholarship Fund at https://bbbsmiami.org/programs/education/.

Hair salon gives back

To celebrate its grand opening, Kairos Hair Salon in South Miami partnered with The For a Day Foundation to donate a portion of funds raised to the program that helps children with cancer.

“The community has been always so wonderful and supportive of our family business so with the opening of the new location we wanted to be able also to give something back to the community as well,” said salon co-owner Ashley Padilla.

“That’s why we decided to partner with The For a Day Foundation, and its Miami director Stefanie Harris to donate a portion of everything booked at our opening to the charity.”

Kairos Hair Salons are owned by Oscar and Ashley Padilla, and Ashley’s sister, Adriana Martinez. The new location is at 8291 S. Dixie Hwy.

To learn more about “Queen For A Day” and “Hero For A Day” programs, visit www.foradayfoundation.org/miami or write to Miami@ForADay.org.

Children’s reading videos at libraries

Highlights™, loved by parents and children since 1946, was created when educators Garry Cleveland Myers and Caroline Clark Myers decided to help children become their “best selves.” They did this through a magazine that continues to inspire creativity and imagination; develop reading and reasoning skills, and teach respect, kindness and sensitivity.

The new “Highlights: Watch and Learn!” video series from Highlights for Children Magazine and Dreamscape Media is now available for free, with a valid Miami-Dade Public Library card.

There are 26 titles in the series that started in mid-July. Access is through hoopla digital at https://www.mdpls.org/digital-library/hoopla.asp.

According to the website, “each episode is centered around a theme ranging from making friends, manners and seasons. While children watch the live-action segments and the illustrated animation, they learn key social skills and develop their imagination and creativity.”

“We aim to create experiences that engage, delight, and foster joyful learning. Dreamscape Media has made that vision a reality with the Highlights: Watch and Learn! Series,” said Highlights International Vice President Andrew Shafran.

If you have news for this column, please send it to CHRISTINAMMAYO@GMAIL.COM

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