Research in Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias

Posted on October 11, 2022 by CEPS

Dr. Joshua Keller standing outside on campus. data-lightbox='featured'

Dr. Joshua Keller is an active researcher and accomplished assistant professor of exercise science in the Department of Health, Kinesiology, and Sport at the University of South Alabama. Keller was recently accepted to the Butler-Williams Scholars Program and the Institute on Methods and Protocols for Advancement of Clinical Trials (IMPACT) in Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias. 

The scholars program is a very competitive training program that provides special opportunities for junior faculty who are new to the field of aging. It's operated by the National Institute on Aging. The IMPACT program provides researchers with fully funded travel to train for a week at the University of Southern California’s prestigious Alzheimer's Therapeutic Research Institute in San Diego. Keller was accepted to participate in a fellowship track that focuses on training individuals to make essential choices related to protocols. 

“I am incredibly grateful and eager to learn from both of these opportunities in order to secure federal funding to assist in improving the health of our surrounding communities,” Keller said.

During his time at South, Keller has worked closely with Dr. Amy Nelson in the Department of Physiology and Cell Biology and other researchers to examine underlying mechanisms associated with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

The team aims to create a treatment that will prevent or delay the onset of neurodegeneration – progressive damage to the brain. With internal funding from the USA Research and Scholarly Development Grant Program, Keller and his team were able to begin data collection relevant to the study from midlife adults in the community. 

A recent graduate of the exercise science program, Miranda Traylor, joined the team while earning her master’s degree. With the knowledge Traylor brought to the table, Keller and his team were able to display data that suggested brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a popular cognitive biomarker to assess following exercise, was associated with complex attention and processing speed in the study participants. 

Keller and Nelson are preparing their next manuscript on research that will identify relevant biomarker differences among races/ethnicities. Both hope to have their work submitted to an Alzheimer’s Association-linked academic journal. Keller and his team are also working on leveraging their momentum to generate funding for large-scale clinical trials here in the Gulf Coast region. 

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