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Approved Research

The body-mind connection: exploring the biological mechanisms underlying the effects of somatic health on brain aging

Principal Investigator: Professor Weili Xu
Approved Research ID: 67048
Approval date: April 22nd 2021

Lay summary

With this application for the UK-biobank data, we intend to identify strategies and treatments to effectively reduce poor health in older adults. We focus on cognitive aging and neurodegenerative disorders, using an approach that integrates brain and somatic perspectives by addressing a wide variety of novel research questions concerning possible common biological mechanisms. Using existing data from the UK-biobank, integrated with biological and neuroimaging data, we will implement several interrelated projects with 4 major aims: 1) Verify whether associations between individual and social factors and semantic- and brain-related disorders are mediated by similar biological mechanisms; 2) Determine the most important biological pathways for mediating associations between somatic diseases and different cognitive phenotypes from cognitive decline, cognitive impairment to dementia; 3) Detect the beneficial and detrimental effect of drug use and polypharmacy for somatic and mental diseases on cognitive decline; and 4) Assess the impact of cognitive decline, cognitive impairment and dementia on physical function decline and disability as well survival.

The proposed project will take approximately 36 months to complete. We are convinced that the scientific strength of the team, the unique data resource of the UK biobank, and the novel conceptual framework of our proposal will lead to significant scientific and clinical advances in the proposed project.