Research grant awarded to Dr. Xiaoran Liu

The Alzheimer’s Association has awarded a 2022 Alzheimer’s Association Research Grant to Dr. Xiaoran Liu.  This grant will enable Dr. Liu to continue her innovative research into how people’s diets may affect their cognitive function as they age and how diet may ultimately play a role in people’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

When asked how she felt about receiving this grant, Dr. Liu stated, “I am thrilled.  I am delighted to learn that primary prevention through modifiable factors, including diet, is a research priority.

The grant will enable her to continue her research toward a potential preventive treatment for this disease that currently has no cure and few effective treatments. “This is an amazing opportunity to leverage my previous research experience and tackle a devastating disease,” she says.

Dr. Liu is a researcher and assistant professor at Rush University Medical Center in the Department of Internal Medicine at the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging. Her research focus is nutrition epidemiology – she conducts studies to evaluate how diet can affect the health of a population.  She has been working on several studies that specifically examine how diet and lifestyle affect cognitive function.  Recently she has used blood-based nutrient biomarkers as part of her studies in addition to traditional measurements to analyze her findings. 

Two representatives from the Alzheimer's Association Illinois Chapter stand onstage with Dr. Liu as she receives a large white check for her research grant.
Dr. Xiaoran Liu receives a check for her research grant at Reason to Hope. (L-R) Executive Director Delia Jervier, Dr. Liu, Board Chair Aimee Nolan

Her work could help scientists understand if dietary interventions could help in the fight to end Alzheimer’s.  Dr. Liu states that this is what originally drew her to this research focus.  “If successful, a primary prevention treatment could delay the onset, prevent the loss of memories, and preserve independence for a large proportion of the older population,” she says.

Dr. Liu’s work aligns with the goals of the Alzheimer’s Association grant program, which are to promote research to fill in gaps in knowledge and support investigators at every professional level.  The grant she received funds early career scientists and those in underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in Alzheimer’s and dementia research. 

The Alzheimer’s Association has awarded a total of 133 awards to researchers like Dr. Liu, totaling $26.4 million.  There are currently 13 active awards using grant money from the Illinois Chapter to conduct a variety of research related to Alzheimer’s and dementia. 

The Alzheimer’s Association funds research that provides essential knowledge to lead the fight against Alzheimer’s and dementia.  In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association is the largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s disease research in the world. Their research grants have funded some of the most important research breakthroughs including Alzheimer’s drug studies and the ability to visualize brain plaques, which are protein changes in the brain related to Alzheimer’s disease.

As research continues to evolve, the hope is that one day there will be a treatment or cure for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.  Until then, the Alzheimer’s Association will continue to provide resources to those working toward that goal.

Contributor: Ellen Grover, Alzheimer’s Association Volunteer

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