Training in the Neurobiology of Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease

With the “graying of America,” we are faced with the need to address the ever-increasing number of individuals in our society who have age-associated nervous system disease and conditions.

To address this problem, we need multidisciplinary approaches to facilitate the discovery of the mechanisms, treatments, and prevention of these diseases. Active, integrated research-based training of pre-doctoral students is key to re-supplying the research personnel needed to address the biomedical health care issues in a sustainable manner.

Training in the neurobiology of aging and Alzheimer’s Disease is proposed to address the ever-increasing numbers of individuals in our society who have age-associated nervous system disease and conditions. The National Institute on Aging T32 Ruth Kirschstein Institutional National Research Service Award focuses on diversity training, scientific excellence and leadership, and preparation of trainees for successful careers in the neurobiology of aging, through intensive research and research-related activities and publication of high-quality research reports.

Meet the Principal Investigators

Nathalie Sumien

Nathalie Sumien, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Neuroscience
Member, Institute for Healthy Aging

Twitter: @SumienLab
Faculty Profile: Nathalie Sumien, Ph.D.

Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Southern Methodist University
B.S. in Physiology, University of Mont Saint Aigna

My scientific interests are focused on identifying interventions improving motor and cognitive function during aging and disease state. Our focus has been on the interaction between antioxidant supplementation and exercise, and whether combining the two anti-aging interventions would further their benefit on brain function declines associated with aging and Alzheimer’s disease.
My laboratory also works on other interventions for other conditions: sigma 1 compounds and chemobrain (brain dysfunction associated with chemotherapy), hyperbaric oxygen therapy to alleviate the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, and new antiaging therapy manipulating internal acidity. Identifying successful interventions and their interaction with factors such as genes and gender will lead to specialized recommendations to patients. Furthermore, it will allow us to determine specific mechanisms involved in positive outcomes leading to the development of therapeutic methods to ultimately improve the healthspan of individuals. Another project of the laboratory is to study the interaction of stroke and/or aging with drugs of abuse and to determine whether drug use makes individuals more susceptible to stroke and development of accelerated aging.
Michael Forster

Michael Forster, Ph.D.

Intern Chair and Regents Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Neuroscience
Acting Executive Director, Institute for Healthy Aging

Faculty Profile: Michael Forster, Ph.D.

Ph.D. in Psychobiology, Bowling Green State University
M.A. in Psychobiology, Bowling Green State University
B.A. in Experimental Psychology, Muhlenberg College

The goal of research in my lab is to understand the biology that makes us slow down and become more vulnerable to disease and injury as we grow older. We know that it is possible to combat aging biology because some people achieve advanced age in truly great condition. Studies of the habits and biology of such individuals during their lives are underway, but it may take several human lifetimes for them to be completed. Lower organisms grow old more rapidly and, like humans, show great differences among individuals in terms of how long they remain robust and resist disease and injury. By studying lower organisms, my laboratory is focused on the promise that we can rapidly discover ways to combat deleterious aging conditions, study how they work, and design trials in humans. Understanding the biology of aging will help us treat all aging-related diseases (i.e., Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, etc).