The University of Arizona has been awarded a five-year $60 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to create and lead a Precision Aging Network that could transform the way we think about the aging brain. Engineering researchers Nan-kuei Chen and Ted Trouard of biomedical engineering and Ali Bilgin of electrical and computer engineering are contributing their expertise to "Cognitive Assessment and Neuroimaging Core" of the project.
The network will bring together researchers from across the country to better understand how and why people experience brain aging differently, with the ultimate goal of developing more effective treatments and interventions targeted to the individual.
Led by neuroscientist Carol Barnes, a UArizona Regents Professor of psychology, neurology and neuroscience and a national leader in brain aging research, the program was inspired by the field of precision medicine, which takes into account a person's genetics, lifestyle, environment and other factors to customize care rather than relying on a one-size-fits-all approach.
"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."