This K01 award will be integral in the development of my career plan designed to extend my prior training
in nutrition and nutrition interventions to include skills in clinical assessment of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease
(AD) research methods, cognitive theory and assessment, and metabolism themed MR neuroimaging tools.
My previous training briefly introduced me to AD research and confirmed that I am passionate about a career
in AD. Nutrition research in AD is a young and promising field that will require nutrition experts to gain
extensive training to understand AD and its assessment tools. To this end, I’ve assembled an expert mentor
and advisory committee to provide formal training in AD clinical assessment, cognition, and MR neuroimaging.
I was appointed as an Assistant Professor on the Tenure Track in the KUMC Department of Dietetics and
Nutrition on September 22, 2019. I will take advantage of KUMC’s interdisciplinary culture and train under the
mentorship of Drs. Jeff Burns, Munro Cullum, and William Brooks. This will allow me to capitalize on several of
KUMC’s research strengths: the NIH-designated KU Alzheimer’s Disease Center (ADC), Hoglund Brain
Imaging Center, KUMC Department of Dietetics and Nutrition, and the Clinical and Translational Science Unit
(funded through an NIH CTSA). Dr. Cullum will provide valuable external institutional training in AD research
and cognition at UT Southwestern in Dallas, TX. The proposed K01 training will add to my well-developed
nutrition skillset and forge a path toward my overall goal to establish research independence in the field of
Nutritional Cognitive Neuroscience applying nutrition interventions and the neuroimaging and cognitive tools
learned in this K01 to AD research.
The scientific goals of this project are to build upon my doctoral research investigating nutrition’s role in
AD risk. This is a growing field as current treatments for the disease are relatively ineffective and means for
preventing its development are highly sought after. I propose to build off of my previous work showing high
glycemic diet’s relationship with brain amyloid and investigate its relationship with AD risk using the tools
acquired from the training in this K01.
Aim 1 will leverage a clinical cohort (P30 AG035982) of over 450 participants at the University of Kansas
Alzheimer’s Disease Center (KU ADC). This aim seeks to investigate the cross-sectional relationship of high
glycemic diet with cognition and MR-derived brain structure and blood flow in older adults with and without AD.
Aim 2 will leverage an NIA-funded R01 (AG060157-01) study at KUMC investigating the role of
Mediterranean diet vs. low-fat diet interventions in AD prevention. The goal of this aim is to investigate whether
intervention-related changes in high glycemic diet explain changes in cognition and MR-derived brain structure
and metabolic profile. This aim will also explore whether the relationship between high glycemic diet and brain
health outcomes is mediated by changes in glucoregulation, as assessed by insulin resistance scores.