Two UNMC scientists recognized for outstanding research in aging diseases

by Vicky Cerino
April 25, 2018

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Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are the two most common forms of neurodegenerative disease and there are few effective therapeutic treatments, and as of yet, no cure.

Two awards given annually at UNMC hope to change that.

The 20th Annual Vada Kinman Oldfield Alzheimer's Research Fund Award and the 14th Annual Nancy and Ronald Reagan Alzheimer's Scholarship Fund Award were presented during recent ceremonies.

Kelly Stauch, Ph.D., of Fremont, received the Vada Kinman Oldfield Alzheimer's Research Fund Award and Katherine Olson, Ph.D., received the Nancy and Ronald Reagan Alzheimer's Scholarship Fund Award.

Dr. Stauch completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the UNMC Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience that focused on how the function of certain mitochondria.

"I studied how energy generation in the brain is altered during aging and in age-associated neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. I hope we can bridge the gap that has been missing in this field," she said.

Dr. Olson, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience, from Odebolt, Iowa, is evaluating agents for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

"Our innovative studies are designed to identify new targets for Alzheimer’s disease based on overlapping and unique changes observed with normal brain aging," Dr. Olson said. "It’s imperative that therapies are developed focusing on combating the cause of neurodegeneration rather than simply alleviating symptoms."

In 1999, Col. A. Barney Oldfield established an endowment at the University of Nebraska Foundation to support Alzheimer’s research at UNMC. The Vada Kinman Oldfield Alzheimer’s Research Fund is awarded annually to an individual with a promising new idea in Alzheimer’s research.

In 2003, he died, leaving a legacy in educational philanthropy that includes more than 100 scholarships through the Nebraska Dollars for Scholars program at the University of Nebraska, the University of North Dakota, South Dakota State University, Arizona State University, the United States Military Academy at West Point and the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation.

Nearly 22 years ago President Ronald Reagan brought attention to the disease and research in the 1980s.

Both President and Mrs. Reagan dedicated themselves to helping accelerate Alzheimer’s research.

To honor President Reagan’s memory the Kinman-Oldfield Family Foundation has established the Nancy and Ronald Reagan Alzheimer’s Scholarship Fund Award. The award recognizes investigators pursuing promising, innovative work in Alzheimer’s research.

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