Winter 2012 E-Newsletter

Winter 2012 UCLA Alzheimer's Research Center Newsletter

| Turken Research Award and Lecture | Meet a Young Researcher | Welcome Melissa Taylor |
| Dear Doc… | Clinical Trials | Upcoming Event |

Turken Research Award and Lecture

Turken Research Award and LectureLeft to right: Harry Vinters, MD; Susan Galeas, MSW, MPH; Beth Devermont; Thomas Montine, MD, PhD; Meredith Braskie, PhD; David Teplow, PhD.

Phyllis Turken Shamberg initiated a gift in 1991 to support the early careers of UCLA researchers interested in studying Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The funds came from a family Foundation established in honor of her parents, Sam and Ida Turken. Her gift became a legacy to UCLA research known as the "Turken Research Award", now given annually to support a promising scientist as they pursue major grant support and scientific independence. The 2011 Turken Researcher Award went to Dr. Meredith Braskie for her work on how AD risk factors relate to brain function and structure. Dr. Braskie is working under the mentorship of Paul Thompson, PhD and John Ringman, MD, MS. Dr. Braskie's award was presented by Phyllis' daughter Beth Devermont and Susan Galeas of the Southern California Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.

As a highlight of Turken Day an international lecture is awarded. This year, Thomas Montine, MD, PhD, gave a lecture titled "Ecology of the Aging Brain." Dr. Montine is the Alvord Endowed Chair in Neuropathology and Professor and Interim Chair of the Department of Pathology at the University of Washington.

Click here to view more information regarding the Turken Research Award Day.


Meet A Young Researcher In The Making

Meet a young researcher in the makingLeft to right: Hary Vinters, MD, and Marc Pakravan from Milken Community High School.

My name is Marc Pakravan. I am in the tenth grade at Milken Community High School where I am part of the Science Research program at the Mitchell Academy of Science and Technology. In this program, each student conducts research in an area of interest with a professional researcher in that field. This year I have regularly met with Dr. Joshua Grill to better understand research in the area of Alzheimer's disease.

As part of this program, I was privileged to
recently have the opportunity to attend a brain
pathology session led by Dr. Harry Vinters, Chief of Neuropathology at UCLA. This was a unique educational opportunity where I was able to observe the intricacies of a human brain. It was very interesting to watch how researchers analyze a brain affected by a neurological disease.

I look forward to continuing my research of Alzheimer's disease with Dr. Grill and other researchers at the Easton Center.


The Easton Center Welcomes a New Director of Operations, Ms. Melissa Taylor

Melissa Taylor, Director of OperationsPhoto: Melissa Taylor, Director of Operations.

I am very pleased to join the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research at UCLA as Director of Operations. This was a position previously held by Karen Metz, MA, who retired at the end of 2011. My career with the University has encompassed the areas of finance and fund management at various campus organizational levels, Chief Administrative Officer for the Center for Performing Arts and, most recently, Director of Human Resources for the School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology. The Easton Center is such a vital program in addressing the healthcare needs of our aging population. The opportunity to support our faculty, research coordinators, and staff in the pursuit of better understanding and eventual cure of this disease is indeed exciting and fulfilling.

*Melissa Taylor can be contacted via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Dear Doc...

A friend sent me an Internet story on a new breakthrough in treating Alzheimer's disease, inhaled insulin. Is this something I should be giving my wife?

Dear Carl,

Thanks very much for your question. You are absolutely correct to seek further information any time you see something on the Internet or hear about a new breakthrough. Although we're working very hard to find new treatments for AD and other dementias, breakthroughs don’t come as often as we would like.

When you hear about new treatments, the question we must ask is whether there has been a well-¬designed, well-¬conducted study to support the use of this new treatment? Even better would be: Have there been multiple well-¬designed, well--conducted studies to support the use of this new treatment?

In the case of inhaled insulin, there has indeed been a well-¬designed, well--conducted initial study that suggested benefit to memory performance (relative to placebo) in Alzheimer's disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment (Craft et al. 2011, Archives Neurology). Small but significant symptomatic benefits were observed for memory and function, but the trial was only 4 months long. These findings are a cause for optimism about the potential for inhaled insulin as a treatment, but larger and longer studies are needed to confirm these preliminary results. We hope to see further high-¬quality studies of inhaled insulin soon, and we'll report back to you in this newsletter as new results become available. Until then, it's too soon to recommend that you or anyone else try insulin inhalers for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.

Best wishes,

Alzheimer’s researchAlzheimer's research
Joshua Grill, PhD and Edmond Teng, MD, PhD
Mary S. Easton Center Investigators

Please send us your questions via email to
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
We look forward to hearing from you!


Clinical Research Opportunities

If you would like to advance Alzheimer's disease research, please consider participating at the Easton Center. Below are two current trials. For a complete list of enrolling studies, visit our website at

Alzheimer's Disease NeuroImaging Initiative (ADNI):

This large multi-¬site project aims to define the rate of progression of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease and to develop improved methodologies including biomarkers for AD clinical trials. It is a non-¬ randomized natural history non-¬treatment study, which enrolls cognitively normal subjects as well as those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and mild Alzheimer's disease (AD). Enrolled subjects should be between 55-¬90 years of age, have a study partner able to provide an independent evaluation of functioning, and will speak either English or Spanish fluently. All subjects must be willing and able to undergo all test procedures including detailed cognitive testing, neuroimaging, lumbar punctures and blood draws. For more information, please call (310) 794-6039 or

Nerve Growth Factor Gene Delivery for Alzheimer's Disease:

This study will examine the safety and efficacy of gene transfer delivered directly to the brain via neurosurgery. Patients will undergo a one-¬time surgical injection of an experimental therapeutic agent that may prevent neuronal death and stimulate neuronal function in the brain. Subjects will then be assessed approximately once every other month for two years as part of the study. You have a 50% chance of receiving the experimental agent. For more information, please contact the UCLA Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research at (310) 794-6039 or


Upcoming Event

Sacramento Advocacy Day 2012

Date: Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
Time: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Location: State Capitol (West Steps)

Each year, the Alzheimer's Association organizes a day of political action at the California state capital. Do you want to increase awareness of legislators about the need for continued and increased support of Alzheimer's disease research funding and support services? Please contact the Alzheimer's Association's Southland Chapter (

Our mailing address is:
Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research at UCLA
10911 Weyburn Avenue, Suite #200
Los Angeles, CA 90095-7226 | Phone Number: (310) 794-6039
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Copyright © 2012. Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research at UCLA. All rights reserved.


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