School of public health

Views on aging linked to Alzheimer’s

People with negative feelings about aging are more likely to have brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease, research led by the School of Public Health has found. The study by Associate Professor Becca Levy is the first to link the brain changes related to Alzheimer’s disease with a cultural-based psychological risk factor. “We believe it is the stress generated by the negative beliefs about aging that individuals sometimes internalize from society, that can result in pathological brain changes,” Levy said. Using MRIs, researchers found that participants with more negative beliefs about aging showed a greater decline in the volume of the hippocampus, a part of the brain crucial to memory. Through brain autopsies, they found that participants with negative views on aging had more amyloid clusters and neurofibrillary tangles, two other indicators of Alzheimer’s disease. 

Toward more diverse researchers

The Research Education Institute for Diverse Scholars (REIDS), which has graduated 17 scholars since it was founded in 2010, was refunded for another five years with a $1.3 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. The program, aimed at junior faculty, addresses the challenges and barriers to advancement experienced by diverse researchers underrepresented in the field of HIV research. It provides opportunities for fellows to develop the skills needed to conduct community-based implementation science research and advance HIV-inequalities research, and gives scholars the additional support, infrastructure, and mentoring that facilitates their academic and professional success. The REIDS program, run by Yale’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (CIRA), includes a four-week summer institute for two consecutive summers, online monthly meetings on grant writing and professional development, intense mentoring from CIRA-affiliated researchers, and a $20,000 grant to conduct a pilot study in community-based implementation science by REIDS mentors.

Student honored as health innovator

Ruchit Nagar ’15, an MPH student in the Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, was named to Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30” for 2016, a listing that showcases the accomplishments of some of the nation’s most innovative and talented young leaders. Nagar, 22, was chosen for his work on Khushi Baby, a wearable device that keeps track of children’s health records to facilitate improved immunization rates in the developing world. The device stores up to two years of data that help health-care workers ensure children are getting the vaccinations they require.   

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