UCI Professor Receives Grant for Alzheimer’s Research

A UC Irvine professor was recently awarded a quarter of a million dollar research grant as part of the celebration of the Orange County Alzheimer’s Association’s new center in Irvine.

Assistant Professor for neurobiology and behavior Matthew Blurton-Jones was awarded a $250,000 research grant by the Orange County Alzheimer’s Association President and CEO James McAleer to continue his study of the TREM2 (triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2) gene, a gene that according to the Alzheimer’s Association can increase a person’s chances of getting the disease by as much as 300-400 percent. The funding for the research grant came from the National Alzheimer’s Association.

In the words of his faculty profile’s research abstract, Blurton-Jones’ research is “focused on the application of stem cells to examine the underlying molecular mechanisms that mediate neurodegenerative disease and to identify novel therapeutic approaches to treat these disorders.”

Blurton-Jones is one of many researchers at UC Irvine to get a grant for medical research. Alzheimer’s kills as many as 500,000 per year according to some reports though the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2011 a total of 84,974 people died in the United States from Alzheimer’s disease and it has become the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and fourth in Orange County. The CDC also reported that there was a 39 percent increase in the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease across demographic lines from 2000 to 2010.

Blurton–Jones and those on his team wish to end this trend.

“After losing my grandfather to the disease years ago, I know first-hand the impact Alzheimer’s has on families who have had to face this terrible disease,” Blurton-Jones said.

Having personally suffered from a loss from the disease, his team will likely continue their research in hopes of finding a link between the gene and a way to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.