BOSTON – (March 19, 2015) – In a ceremony today, the Alzheimer’s Association awarded Gail Musen, Ph.D, Assistant Investigator in the Section on Clinical, Behavioral and Outcomes Research at Joslin Diabetes Center and Assistant Professor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, the Investigator-Initiated Research Grant. This is one of the largest grants given out by the association and it was awarded to Dr. Musen for her research into the effects of maintaining cognitive function for people with type two diabetes. 

This grant supports non-pharmacological strategies to ameliorate symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

“I am honored to be the recipient of this prestigious award,” said Dr. Musen. “The Alzheimer’s Association has supported numerous important studies on this devastating disease, and receiving this award will allow me to continue my research program amidst a difficult funding climate.”

The Alzheimer's Association awards this grant to scientists who have provided outstanding research to advance the understanding of Alzheimer’s disease. 

“We are honored to present Dr. Musen for her investigation in developing non-pharmacological strategies to improve the care of persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia to change the future of dementia diagnosis, treatment, care and prevention,” said Lenore Jackson-Pope, Manager of Medical & Research Education at the Alzheimer's Association, Massachusetts New Hampshire Chapter.

In response to research showing that type 2 diabetes increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Musen and colleagues found that individuals with type 2 diabetes and people with an elevated genetic risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease display similar changes in brain function. 

According to recent evidence, physical exercise may be effective in improving cognitive function and reducing one’s risk of dementia. Dr. Musen explored the effects of aerobic exercise on maintaining brain structure and cognitive function in people with type 2 diabetes. Results of this study could lead to non-pharmacological therapy for diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

“Alzheimer’s disease is a serious complication for people with type 2 diabetes,” said George King, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer at Joslin and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “There are currently very few therapeutic avenues for Alzheimer’s disease, so Dr. Musen’s study could provide important information on the role of exercise to prevent this disease. The support from The Alzheimer’s Association is critical for the success of this project.”  

Dr. Musen’s research focuses on changes in brain structure and function as a result of diabetes, with an emphasis on investigating the link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Musen received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley and completed her postdoctoral fellowship in cognitive neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego, where she studied cognition in memory-impaired populations. Dr. Musen is also a recipient of the Harvard Medical School Scholars in Medicine Fellowship in Memory of Priscilla White. 

Dr. Musen is honored to have been selected to receive this grant from the Alzheimer’s Association and looks forward to the opportunities it provides.

“I am grateful to the Alzheimer’s Association for this opportunity. This funding has both personal and professional significance to me as both my mother and mother-in-law suffered from dementia,” she concluded.