Claudia Satizabal, PhD, instructor of neurology, was recently awarded a 2016 research grant to promote diversity from the Alzheimer’s Association. The two-year, $118,673 award will be used to further study the impact of obesity on brain aging and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).
Satizabal is also affiliated with the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) under the mentorship of Dr. Sudha Seshadri. She is currently investigating the impact of midlife obesity, as well as different dietary, inflammatory and neurotrophic biomarkers, in association with stroke, cognitive function, MRI markers of abnormal brain aging and dementia.
“Populations worldwide are facing an obesity epidemic, and these same populations are aging and will contribute to the growing prevalence of dementia and AD. Therefore, it becomes imperative to understand the mechanisms by which obesity increases the risk of dementia and AD, which may help develop health policies and treatment strategies to diminish the consequences of obesity in late life,” explained Satizabal.
In addition to her work at BUSM and the FHS, Satizabal is actively involved in the neurology and cognitive working groups of the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) consortium, where she leads projects investigating the genetic variation in fine motor speed, visual memory, and subcortical brain structures. She participates in several other international collaborations including the AD Cohorts Consortium and the replication phase of the AD sequencing project.
Prior to joining the FHS in 2013, Satizabal earned her doctorate degree, studying the relationship between inflammatory proteins and cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative MRI markers of abnormal brain aging in the French Three-City Study at the INSERM Neuro-Epidemiology laboratory of the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris. In 2007, she was awarded a two-year Utrecht Excellence Scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in epidemiology from Utrecht University. She received her undergraduate degree in microbiology from Los Andes University in her home country of Colombia in 2005.
The Alzheimer’s Association is the largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s research in the world, having awarded more than $375 million to fund over 2,400 scientific investigations.
Fostering a robust workforce of Alzheimer’s researchers is a major goal of the Alzheimer’s Association Research Grant and Fellowship Awards. The program funds early-career scientists working on new ideas in Alzheimer’s research that will lead to future grant applications to government and other funding sources, including the Alzheimer’s Association. It includes supporting researchers from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in the field.