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Jax Daily Record Monday, Aug. 9, 202112:33 PM EST

UNF receives $5 million research grant

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The university will conduct a three-year study of dementia and cognitive training.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

The University of North Florida announced Aug. 9 it was awarded $5 million, the largest competitive grant in the school’s history, to participate in the Preventing Alzheimer’s with Cognitive Training study.

Jody Nicholson

The grant is to associate psychology professor Jody Nicholson, who will lead the UNF PACT study. UNF is one of six universities taking part in the research.

“Almost everyone knows someone who has been touched by this disease and people want to be part of the solution because they understand how serious this problem is,” Nicholson said in a news release.

The university is seeking volunteers from the community to participate in the study, Nicholson said.

Dementia is the most expensive medical condition in the U.S., which creates the need to intervene to curb the increasing prevalence of the disease.

Preliminary data from more than 18 randomized clinical trials demonstrate that a type of computerized training can improve cognition and transfer to improving everyday activities. Recent evidence further indicates that such cognitive training may reduce dementia risk, the release said.

The UNF recruitment goal is 1,001 Jacksonville-area participants.

To qualify, volunteers must be age 65 or older with no signs of cognitive impairment or dementia. There is an emphasis on the need for African American and Hispanic study volunteers as those populations are at the highest risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Participants will receive initial instruction in how to participate in the training exercises that will require two in-person study visits. The remainder of the computerized training exercises will be conducted remotely for a total of 25 hours over six weeks.

At the one-year mark, participants will return to the study site for two “booster” sessions, and again after two years. Upon the third year, evaluations will be performed.

For more information, or to volunteer, call (904) 620-4263, email [email protected] or visit the PACT study website.

The overall $44.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging will be apportioned to the participating universities as they open their PACT study sites, with the majority of the grant for the University of South Florida, one of the sites where the study originated more than 15 years ago.

Other sites are Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, Clemson Institute for Engaged Aging, Duke Health and the University of Florida.

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