Why are women at greater risk for Alzheimer's disease? Come up with innovative ways to answer this question and you might win the Geoffrey Beene Global NeuroDiscovery Challenge, which asks researchers to uncover the reasons for gender-based differences underlying early cognitive decline. Meryl Comer, of the Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer's Initiative launched the challenge 29 April 2013 at the Society for Women's Health Research gala in Washington, DC, in support of WomenAgainstAlzheimer's. Founded by Comer and Trish Vradenburg, co-founder of USAgainstAlzheimer's (see ARF related news story), this new network of women leaders aims to promote Alzheimer's disease research. This is the second challenge by Geoffrey Beene. The first, in partnership with Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy and Pfizer, Inc., awarded $175,000 to Ginger.io, a startup company that turns smartphones into research tools (see ARF related news story).
This new challenge asks multidisciplinary teams find innovative ways to probe existing databases to identify sex differences in Alzheimer's. Women face twice the risk for AD as men, but the reasons for that are unclear. Men's and women's brains are different structurally and functionally, noted Phyllis Greenberger of the Society of Women's Health Research. "Studying the science of sex differences will transform our understanding of neurological disorders in men and women, and will accelerate better prevention and treatments," she said at the gala.
Applicants can tackle gender differences in six areas of research: rate of disease progression; the role of cardiovascular risk factors; antecedent biomarkers; maternal and paternal patterns of inheritance; prevention interventions; and treatment for cognitive decline. The National Institute on Aging will provide technical support for mining the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative and the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center databases.