By: Mira Garin
Adrienne R.S. Lee, a current fifth-year epidemiology student in the UCSD/SDSU Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health, was awarded the Transition to Aging Research for Predoctoral Students by the National Institute on Aging. This two-phase award was created with the goal of growing and diversifying the pool of trainees who work in aging and geriatric research while simultaneously helping recent graduates more easily adapt to competitive postdoctoral work. Between one and two years of predoctoral work can be supported by this award with up to $41,911 of funding; additional funding is available for up to four years of postdoctoral research.
Adrienne’s ongoing dissertation work utilizes the longitudinal Health and Retirement Study to investigate the role of social and structural determinants of health on cognitive trajectories and dementia outcomes among older adults. Over six million adults in the United States are currently affected by Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD), and this number is projected to increase to thirteen million by the year 2050. Compared to their White counterparts, “Black and Hispanic/Latino older adults have a greater burden of ADRD, and disproportionate increases in ADRD rates are projected in these groups,” Adrienne explained. “It is imperative that we understand the drivers of these racial/ethnic disparities in cognitive outcomes to inform meaningful and impactful interventions and reduce ADRD risk in the most vulnerable populations and communities.” Her work is supported by her committee members Drs. Andrea LaCroix, Gretchen Bandoli, Linda McEvoy, Eyal Oren, Scott Roesch, and Lauren Brown. “We believe that in order to improve the health of our society and the most vulnerable within it, a life course perspective and health equity approach is crucial,” Adrienne emphasized. “To make real change that improves the health span of our communities, we must examine and address the root causes that drive the disparities we see in behaviors and health outcomes.”
“The experience of preparing and submitting this grant application was very rewarding and surprisingly straightforward,” Adrienne reflected. “It was a great opportunity to get grant writing experience, to advocate for your dissertation research, and to fully conceptualize your training and professional development goals for the next phase of your career.”