Wisconsin a leader in cutting-edge Alzheimer's research

Published: May. 3, 2019 at 5:07 PM CDT
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Three-million dollars in new federal funding, from the National Institutes of Health is now on the way to Wisconsin, dedicated solely to Alzheimer's research.

Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, helped secure the money that is going to doctors and researchers at the Wisconsin Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, part of the UW-School of Medicine and Public Health.

That's where thousands of Wisconsinites are helping shape research on this deadly disease.

Friday afternoon, one of the lead doctors visited Green Bay to share the latest research with families.

"My sister and my dad had Alzheimer's, but my sister has it now," says Jan Welk.

It's that personal connection to the terrifying brain disease that drove Welk and about 100 others to the Neville Public Museum in Green Bay, eager to hear the latest research from one of the men leading that work, Dr. Nick Vogt.

"We're broadly interested in understanding the aging brain and why people develop Alzheimer's disease," says Dr. Vogt, MD and PhD Trainee at the Wisconsin Alzheimer's Disease Research Center in Madison.

While everyone wants a simple answer, research has not uncovered one yet.

But every day, doctors are dissecting science where advancing technology is now allowing them to look at brain scans of people living with Alzheimer's, instead of only studying it after they've died.

Dr. Vogt focuses on brain scans and spinal fluid data, trying to piece together the puzzle.

Two big studies underway at the Research Center in Madison are helping.

One, the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention (WRAP), is actually the world's largest study of people whose parents had the disease.

"We have about 1,500 people in that, and studying them over time to try and figure out what are the biologic, or genetic or lifestyle risk factors that cause people to develop Alzheimer's Disease," explains Dr. Vogt.

"We have a lot of people that want to know what's happening with research, because persons that are donating to us, some of the money is going to that, so when we talk about research, it is affecting everyone in Wisconsin," says Laurie Schill, Executive Director of the Alzheimer's Association Greater Wisconsin Chapter.

And more people can help with research by participating in TrialMatch, a program that connects interested people to join specific studies.

All of this gives Jan Welk and so many others hope.

"Anything we can do to help to prevent it and having it myself," she says.

To learn more about research and TrialMatch, click on the links below or to the right.

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