Brain scientists present groundbreaking work at conference

February 18, 2013, University of Texas at Dallas

(Medical Xpress)—Nearly 200 researchers recently met in Dallas to share important new findings and map strategies for identifying age-related dementias as early as possible.

The two-day Dallas Aging and Cognition Conference was sponsored by the Center for Vital Longevity (CVL) and featured presentations by leading international investigators that focused on how the brain is affected by aging and age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's. Between sessions at the Four Seasons Resort & Club in Las Colinas, renowned researchers mingled with graduate students from a variety of institutions, who detailed their own findings in posters.

During his presentation, Dr. William Thies, chief medical scientific officer of the Alzheimer's Association, expressed optimism about the pace of investigation and discovery. He pointed to the major shift in the last decade toward development of disease-modifying treatments, instead of medicines aimed only at addressing symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

Thies also lobbied for increased funding from government and private sources, along the lines of cancer and heart disease research support.

"Those big investments in other diseases are great," he said. "But we now have a public health problem, and we need to get Alzheimer's research to that level."

Dr. Adam Brickman of Columbia University discussed his research of white matter and its connection to 's disease. He said the conference provided a great opportunity to discuss new approaches to major issues with other presenters and young researchers.

"I think the intimacy of conferences like this make them very productive," he said. "Focusing on this specific topic of aging allowed greater exchange of ideas."

Dr. Denise Park, center co-director and Distinguished University Chair in the School of Behavioral and Sciences, said great progress is being made in the field of aging research.

"This represents a special moment for Dallas in our city's ambitious effort to become a leading center for research and scholarship," Park said. "Rarely are we able to bring together so many innovative thinkers to exchange ideas about research that will make a major difference in how we live our lives."

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