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July 26, 2012

ULM and Pennington partner for free memory and language assessments

As advancements in medicine continue to help doctors and their patients understand diseases and ailments, the availability of early detection through research and screenings becomes vital to fight against debilitating illness.

In a joint project involving the University of Louisiana at Monroe and Pennington Biomedical Research Center’s Institute for Dementia Research and Prevention (IDRP), a free study is being offered to identify the basis for age-related dementia.

The study is one of the largest studies of its kind in the nation aiming to develop tools for early detection and to develop preventative measures for treatment.

Individuals over the age of 60, who have never suffered a stroke or serious head injury and have no previous diagnosis of dementia, are encouraged to enroll for testing associated with the study.

Individuals cannot currently be taking any medications for memory.

The benefits of enrolling include free annual cognitive testing after the initial screening, and the earliest possible detection of any cognitive difficulties or deficiencies that could potentially indicate dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. 

Those in northeast Louisiana who feel this testing may be helpful are urged to participate in these screenings, which will take place on the ULM campus.

The screenings will help advance memory and language testing, and assist in early detection of Alzheimer’s and other cognitive diseases.

ULM President Nick J. Bruno will be the first individual in the Monroe area to join the Louisiana Brain Aging Study (LABrainS), Louisiana’s only brain aging longitudinal research study.

Bruno will take the memory assessment test and encourages others to do so as well.

“I am happy to be a participant in the gathering of data as part of our partnership with Pennington Biomedical,” said Bruno.

“The development of a database by ULM staff will expand upon the data which has been collected by Pennington Biomedical in South Louisiana.  This confidential information will give researchers a better understanding of this disease which strips its victims of their dignity and quality of life.”

Jeffrey Keller, Ph.D., and director of the IDRP at Pennington Biomedical, praised Bruno for his participation and encouragement, as researchers work to find preventive measures for Alzheimer's disease.

“The IDRP has recruited more than 1,600 Louisiana residents who are now participating in LABrainS in Baton Rouge and Alexandria.  Their participation is helping researchers identify the basis for age-related dementia,” Keller said.

“Our work is centered on the prevention of the disease.”

“These types of studies begin to open up doors for subsequent studies,” said Karen Kopera-Frye, Ph.D. and department head of Gerontology, Sociology, and Political Science at ULM and holder of ULM’s Joseph A. Beidenharn Endowed Chair of Gerontology.

“Participants will be asked to return in a year to track progression and to see if any changes have occurred since the first test,” continued Kopera-Frye.

“They will also be able to become involved in other types of testing for free. Those include sleep, nutrition and diet, and gait studies.”

According to Kopera-Frye, six trained gerontology and psychology students from ULM will be involved in the testing, allowing for appointments to made at the participant’s convenience.

“Not only are these students getting to work with the aging population of northeast Louisiana, they are gaining practical, real-world experience at the same time,” said Kopera-Frye.

“There are currently 100,000 individuals in Louisiana with Alzheimer’s disease.  Through our testing, we have found that individuals want to know more about Alzheimer's and other types of dementia, including signs and symptoms and other aspects that we are learning from our research studies. We want to help answer these questions and many others,” continued Keller.

To learn more about the study, call toll free 1-877-276-8306 or email

To schedule an appointment on the ULM campus, please call Wanda Honey at 318-342-1465.

About the IDRP
The IDRP was established in 2009 to improve the quality of life for individuals in Louisiana through research programs focused on dementia prevention and to provide vital educational opportunities.

IDRP is focused on creating clinical research infrastructure, attracting new clinical trials to the state of Louisiana and conducting conferences to promote the latest in dementia research and prevention.

About the Pennington Biomedical Research Center
The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is at the forefront of medical discovery as it relates to understanding the causes of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia.

It is a campus of the Louisiana State University System and conducts basic, clinical and population research.

The research enterprise at Pennington Biomedical includes approximately 80 faculty and more than 25 post-doctoral fellows who comprise a network of 50 laboratories supported by lab technicians, nurses, dieticians, and support personnel, and 19 highly specialized core service facilities. 

Pennington Biomedical’s more than 500 employees perform research activities in state-of-the-art facilities on the 234-acre campus located in Baton Rouge.

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