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Stop Alzheimer’s Now announces recipients of 2024 research grants

AUSTIN, Texas May 1, 2024 – Stop Alzheimer’s Now (SAN) is proud to announce the selection of Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and the University of Kansas (KU) as the recipients of the 2024 SAN Research Grants. Each institution will receive $100,000 to directly fund Alzheimer’s research focused on finding a cure.

Sharing a deep connection to the Scott Richards North Star Foundation, SAN was founded in 2013 by Shaun McDuffee, AEP, CLU, ChFC®, CEPA, a North Star Resource Group senior vice president. Driven by a personal connection to the condition, McDuffee and his wife, Kristin, founded SAN to increase awareness of Alzheimer’s as well as its effects on families around the world. Since 2013, they have raised nearly $750,000, of which 97% has directly funded research and awareness initiatives.

SAN received numerous research proposals from many of the 33 nationally recognized Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers (ADRCs), reflecting the widespread dedication to combating this debilitating disease. The selected projects stand out for their potential to advance the understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and move patients closer to effective treatments.

This marks the second research grant awarded to the University of Kansas (KU) under the leadership of Dr. Russell H. Swerdlow, MD. Dr. Swerdlow’s current project and research program focuses on the role of mitochondria in Alzheimer’s. Mitochondria are structures in cells that generate energy and direct the synthesis of vital cell materials.

“Decades of work establish the possibility that mitochondria may initiate [Alzheimer’s disease] and drive the formation of plaques and tangles,” stated Dr. Swerdlow. “This perspective is captured in a hypothesis I proposed and advocated for, the ‘Mitochondrial Cascade Hypothesis’ (MCH). To inform the integrity of the MCH, this project will generate neuron models that feature specific, complementary and stable types of primary mitochondrial dysfunction. We will analyze these neuron models using state-of-the-art “omics” approaches. Omics represents a relatively new and powerful way of generating biomedical research data. Instead of studying one gene, protein, metabolite or pathway at a time, omics approaches allow one to simultaneously quantify the total complement of genes, proteins, metabolites and pathway changes that are present within a system.”

In 2016, SAN awarded KU a $100,000 research grant, establishing the Stop Alzheimer’s Now Research Fund. The past grant supported a ketogenic diet study conducted by Dr. Swerdlow and his team, which aimed to understand how ketone body-based interventions affect the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Swerdlow and his team’s dedication to SAN’s mission of finding a cure aligns perfectly with our goals.

“The goal of these studies is to inform the etiology, or root cause, of Alzheimer’s disease (AD),” Dr. Swerdlow added. “Almost 120 years of AD research reveals multiple features that distinguish AD brains from non-AD brains, yet we lack an accepted understanding of what initiates AD brain changes. This is a critical question—if we don’t know what we truly need to fix, our chances of finding a cure are slim.”

This year marks the first $100,000 research grant SAN awarded to Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). The recipient, Carlos M. Soto-Faguas, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher in the OHSU laboratory of Vivek Unni, M.D., Ph.D., plans to put the award to immediate use. The grant will support a full year of research along with behavioral testing of mice in collaboration with the lab of Jacob Raber, Ph.D., a professor of behavioral neuroscience in the OHSU School of Medicine, and under the supervision of Randy Woltjer, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine.

For more information about Stop Alzheimer’s Now and its research initiatives, please visit

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