Dementia and genes to be discussed June 14

Brain connect the dots graphic

Dementia, a decline in mental ability that is severe enough to interfere with the activities of daily life, is not the result of a single mutation in a single gene, said Sudha Seshadri, M.D., professor and founding director of the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s & Neurodegenerative Diseases at UT Health San Antonio. On the contrary, recent explorations have pointed out dozens of genes that may be involved.

Dr. Seshadri and visiting scientists from Boston and the Rio Grande Valley/Venezuela will discuss “Can new genetic insights help us find better prevention and treatments for dementia?” at 5 p.m. Thursday, June 14, at UT Health San Antonio. The public is invited to attend for free, including free parking.

The panel discussion will be in the Mabee Conference Room, room 406 of the Mays Cancer Center at UT Health San Antonio. The Mays Cancer Center is the newly named center home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Dr. Seshadri was senior author on a study announced this year that tripled the number of known genetic risk factors for stroke, which is a leading precipitator of dementia. This is but one example of dementia’s complex nature.

“Rather than one drug target there may be multiple drug targets, some that work for one person and some that work for another person,” Dr. Seshadri said. “It is important to study every person that we can, so can classify subtypes of dementia that will respond to different treatments.”

No therapies currently are available to reverse the progression of Alzheimer’s disease or the other dementias, which is why scientists are studying the genetics of these diseases, she said.

About the panel

Gladys E. Maestre, Ph.D., M.D., M.Phil., is a professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, Division of Neuroscience, and Department of Human Genetics at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine. Her research projects focus on gene-environment interactions affecting cognition, particularly related to aging. Dr. Maestre, a native of Venezuela, leads the Maracaibo Aging Study and coordinates diverse activities related to capacity building for brain research in Venezuela and the Caribbean region.

Chloe Sarnowski, Ph.D., is in the Department of Biostatistics at Boston University. Dr. Sarnowski’s research focuses on genomics bioinformatics and computational biology, and next-generation genetic and DNA sequencing analysis.

Sudha Seshadri, M.D., is founding director of the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s & Neurodegenerative Diseases and is a professor in the Department of Neurology at the Joe R. & Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine, UT Health San Antonio. Dr. Seshadri is a senior investigator for the seminal Framingham Heart Study, has had peer-reviewed research continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for 10 years, and currently serves as the principal investigator on eight NIH research grants.

She has lectured extensively nationally and internationally on Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and the genetics of stroke and vascular brain injury. Dr. Seshadri is a recognized thought leader in Alzheimer’s disease, having recently co-authored position papers disseminated by the National Academy of Sciences on ”Preventing Cognitive Decline and Dementia: A Way Forward,” and by the American Heart Association with a paper titled ”Defining Optimal Brain Health in Adults.”

Following the presentation, audience members will have the chance to pose questions to the assembled distinguished experts, including Dr. Seshadri. The session is part of the Glenn Biggs Institute lecture series “Dialogue on Dementia.”


An RSVP is not required but is appreciated. Please register at Dialogue on Dementia.

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