On July 2, 2020, the National Institutes of Health announced $150,000 in supplemental funding to support a new partnership between UW Medicine and the UW College of Education to research Alzheimer's disease. 

Dr. Paul K. Crane, professor (General Internal Medicine), is the principal investigator of the parent grant called “ADNI Psychometrics.” 

Paul Crane, MD, MPH
Paul Crane, MD, MPH

ADNI refers to the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, an American–Canadian research partnership. The NIH supplement enables Dr. Chun Wang, assistant professor (UW College of Education) and graduate student Ruoyi Zhu to join the team.

“This is a very exciting opportunity to foster this new partnership between my research group and Dr. Wang and Ms. Zhu,” said Dr. Crane.

“We will be able to see how tools that have been developed and refined in educational testing settings can be applied to improve our statistical toolkit for important questions in Alzheimer’s disease research.”

This particular project focuses on applying state-of-the-art Bayesian approaches to ADNI’s cognitive testing data to see whether these approaches may improve the identification of people at highest risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. If these approaches prove successful, they will enable targeted enrollment of people at the highest risk in intervention trials, which could speed the identification of successful treatments to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

“I am super excited about this opportunity to work with Dr. Crane on applying the Bayesian Item Response Theory methodology to the ADNI data. This will not only expand the impact of this useful psychometric tool as well as broaden my own research scope, but also provide a training opportunity for my doctoral student, Ms. Zhu,” said Dr. Wang.

Dr. Crane agrees. “I am excited by this new partnership and eager to see what comes next!”

ADNI is a public-private partnership to fund extensive data collection on well-characterized older adults as a means to further scientific understanding of aging and Alzheimer’s disease. 

ADNI participants are enrolled at dozens of research sites across the United States and Canada. ADNI data are made available rapidly after acquisition. These data have been used by investigative teams around the world in more than 1,800 publications to date. ADNI has had multiple cycles of funding and ADNI3 is currently underway.