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UArizona researchers receive grant to study aging brain

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TUCSON (KVOA) - The University of Arizona is one step closer to creating a research network to study the aging of the brain.

According to university officials, the university received a five-year $60 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to create the Precision Aging Network.

The goal is to develop a more effective brain aging treatment targeted to each person. Officials said this network will bring together researchers from around the country to study brain aging. It is being led by neuroscientist Carol Barnes, a University of Arizona Regents Professor of psychology, neurology and neuroscience.

"You're going to age differently from me, and I'm going to age differently from someone else. We all need a prescription that fits us individually if we are to optimize our cognitive health," said Barnes, who is also a member of the university's BIO5 Institute and director of the UArizona Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute. "We're interested in exploring more deeply: What is a normative aging brain? What are the fundamentals? Because we can't understand the diseases that happen in an aging brain until we understand the fundamentals of what is a generally normative aging brain."

"The University of Arizona is a world leader in research on aging, and this NIH award advances our work at the forefront of this very important field," said University of Arizona President Robert Robbins.

An estimated 50 million people worldwide are living with some form of dementia, and that number is expected to double every 20 years as people live longer, Barnes said.

The Precision Aging Network aims to gather information on adults of different ages, ethnicities and backgrounds.

It will do this, in part, by leveraging an existing tool that Ryan has been using in an ongoing research project in partnership with TGen researcher Matt Huentelman, who is also an associate director of the Precision Aging Network. Their MindCrowd research project, launched in 2013 to better understand human memory and risk factors for Alzheimer's disease, recruits large numbers of participants online.

The Precision Aging Network will use an expanded version of the MindCrowd online portal to help recruit 350,000 study participants age 18 and older and gather information on their cognition, demographics, health and lifestyle variables.