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Local Researcher Will Study How Stress Impacts Alzheimer's Patients

Vankee Lin, PhD RN
Vankee Lin, PhD RN

A researcher at the University of Rochester School of Nursing has been awarded a grant to study how stress impacts the mental abilities of people with Alzheimer's disease.

Nurse researcher Vankee Lin, PhD,  will receive the $100,000 reward from the Alzheimer's Association of Rochester and the Finger Lakes region at a ceremony in Corn Hill on Saturday before the start of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Lin says high levels of stress may contribute to the damage of death of brain cells, and people with Alzheimer's do experience stress on a daily basis.

"The mental demands of daily living will be very stressful for people with dementia,” Lin said, “Such as problem solving, managing finances and remembering names."

Lin and her team are interested in developing behavioral and social interventions that will work to slow or prevent progression of the disease. She is especially interested in the growing field of research that demonstrates how social engagement, physical exercise and mentally stimulating activity may help protect people’s brains from cognitive decline.

She said much of the previous research has involved the development of drugs, but Lin believes there is a vast amount of potential in non-drug therapies.

Lin and her colleagues will be recruiting people for the study between the ages of 60 and 80. They can range from those who have no history of dementia, to people with mild cognitive impairment and mild Alzheimer's disease.

Lin was one of three junior scientists to win the esteemed Young Investigators Award from the American Neuropsychiatric Association in 2012.  In 2014, she received the Most Promising Young Investigator Award from the University of Rochester School of Nursing. She joined the UR School of Nursing faculty in 2011.

Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.