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Peng Zhong, PhD, named Kinman Oldfield Scholar

Peng Zhong, PhD

Peng Zhong, PhD

Peng Zhong, PhD, an assistant professor in the UNMC Department of Neurological Sciences, has been named UNMC’s 2024 Kinman Oldfield Scholar for his research aiming to unravel the neural connections between sleep disturbance and neurodegenerative disorders.

Dr. Zhong will receive the Kinman Oldfield award at a ceremony today (April 24) at 11 a.m. in the Wigton Heritage Center Atrium.

The annual award supports the efforts of junior faculty and students for research in Alzheimer’s disease and in investigating the cause, evaluation and treatment of late-life cognitive disorders. It was established by Colonel Barney Oldfield to honor of his wife, Vada Kinman Oldfield, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Zhong’s research aims to test a novel strategy for treating Alzheimer’s disease-associated sleep disturbances and halting disease progression. His goal is to determine whether stabilizing wakefulness in a research model, via activation of a newly identified wake-promoting neuron, can improve the disturbed sleep and cognitive deficits.

Matthew Rizzo, MD, Frances & Edgar Reynolds Chair of the UNMC Department of Neurological Sciences, said the department is proud that Dr. Zhong is receiving the award in recognition of his important work on the brain mechanisms of sleep.

Said Dr. Rizzo, “Sleep impairment is a common issue in many mind and brain disorders, including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and related conditions. Dr. Zhong’s research aims to uncover the underlying brain mechanisms driving sleep disturbances in these disorders, which could lead to the development of new treatments and cures – precisely the kind of work that Vada Kinman Oldfield and Colonel Barney Oldfield sought to support through this prestigious scholar award.”

Dr. Zhong said sleep and circadian disruption are estimated to affect as many as 66% of Alzheimer’s patients, contributing to disease progression. Improving the quality of both sleep and wakefulness could potentially mitigate the effects of a toxic protein deposition, he said. However, he said, there have been few systematic attempts to apply this strategy for treating Alzheimer’s disease.

“Many thanks to the Kinman Oldfield Family Foundation for motivating us and encouraging us with the support of this line of research,” Dr. Zhong said. “This award will enable us to develop sleep-based therapies for Alzheimer’s disease.”

In addition to the Kinman Oldfield Award, the following students will receive Nancy and Ronald Reagan Scholarship Awards and be honored at the April 24 ceremony:

  • Shaurav Bhattarai
  • Rakhi Chowdhury
  • Emma Foster
  • Rana Kadry
  • Mohit Kumar
  • Megan Paustian
  • Shefali Srivastava
  • Debapriya Sutar
  • Hanyu Xiao

1 comment

  1. Siwei Zhao says:

    Congratulations Dr. Zhong!

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