Dr. Johannes Weickenmeier, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, was recently awarded a National Institutes of Health grant in the amount of $424,050. His project, entitled "Personalized Predictions of Biomarker Progression in Alzheimer's Disease," proposes a novel mechanobiological disease model for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), which predicts the prion-like protein progression and subsequent structural changes on the organ level in space and time.
Weickenmeier’s computational approach utilizes medical images and physics-based modeling to provide subject-specific simulations of common features of AD, with the goal of minimizing exposure to invasive measures. Weickenmeier and his team hypothesize that their model is a reliable biomarker to enable earlier diagnosis of dementia-type and monitoring of disease progression, which would allow for the development of more effective and personalized treatment strategies. This study is particularly relevant to public health because early diagnosis of dementia-type, coupled with a reliable tool to track disease progression, will have a significant clinical impact on disease management. In addition, this could minimize frequent exposure to invasive biomarkers. Demonstrating the role of mechanobiology in AD pathology will inherently advance our basic understanding of other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
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