Mental Health & Physical Well-being

Current and Past Projects

Community-Based Early Identification of Mild Cognitive Impairment in At-Risk African Americans
Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors (Cures)
Multimodal Approach for Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease
The Hispanic Community Health Study /Study of Latinos
Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research (MCUAAAR)

Effects of a Mind-Body Training Program on Cognition in Healthy Older Adults

Southeast Michigan Partners Against Cancer (SEMPAC) 
Neural Correlates and Modifiers of Cognitive 
Validation of Integrating Mental Health into Occupational Therapy Practice with Older Adults 
Lifespan Investigation of Family, Health and Environment (LIFHE)

Community-Based Early Identification of Mild Cognitive Impairment in At-Risk African Americans
Voyko Kavcic, PI. The National Institutes of Health awarded $201,000 over 18 months to use low-cost computerized tests and EEGs to detect early cognitive changes in otherwise healthy older African Americans and determine who may be at risk for later mild cognitive changes or Alzheimer’s disease.  African Americans have faster rates of cognitive decline than other races and are less likely to be diagnosed or receive treatment in its early stages.

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Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors (CURES)
Peter Lichtenberg, director of the community outreach and education core; Melissa Runge-Morris, M.D., PI. A portion of the three-year, $2.4 million grant from WSU’s Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to develop and implement a model of community engagement, interaction and training for all ages in the detection of and protection from common environmental stressors. The grant supports community learning and discussion forums, the creation of a community advisory board, and communication and educational materials for residents of Detroit and nearby at-risk communities.

Multimodal Approach for Early Detection of Alzheimer's Disease
Dr. Voyko Kavcic

A grant of $122,224 from the Alzheimer’s Association to study several methods that might be effective in detecting early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

The Hispanic Community Health Study /Study of Latinos
PI: Dr. Hector González, PI of the Neurocognitive Reading Center
Funded by: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke.

This is a large, longitudinal study of 16,000 Latinos aged 18 – 74. Dr. González receives $84,000 over two years to oversee the cognitive assessment of over 10,000 Latinos aged 45 and older. 
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Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research (MCUAAAR)
Co PI's: Jackson, J.S. and Lichtenberg, P.A.
NIH/National Institute on Aging (P30), 1997-2012 $8.9 million

The Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research (MCUAAAR) promotes health research on minority elders, particularly African American elders, that will lead to the reduction and elimination of health disparities through several approaches consistent with the NIA’s 2005-2010 Strategic Plan. Exemplars of MCUAAAR’s efforts include a successful mentoring program focused on building a network of minority investigators who are committed to becoming productive scholars in the area of health and aging. Health promotion and the reduction and elimination of health disparities is only possible with the effective recruitment and retention of African American and other minority elders in health research. We will continue to build upon our productive research program in this area, and continue to reach out to seniors in the city of Detroit with the explicit purpose of building upon our developed databases of research participants. This volunteer participant pool is comprised of individuals who have agreed to be contacted to engage in health-related studies that have significance for their communities.

MCUAAAR is one of six center grants on Minority Aging Research funded by the NIA. Our particular center is a joint effort between Wayne State University and the University of Michigan and includes several departments and colleges from both institutions. To date, 30 pilot investigation studies have been completed. The center sponsors a summer conference each year to help further educate junior faculty in the research process, research methods, and grant writing.

Southeast Michigan Partners Against Cancer (SEMPAC)
PI: Albrecht, T and Head: Lichtenberg, P.A.
National Cancer Institute, 2010-2015 $4,096,000
Dr. Teri Albrecht, Associate Center Director, Population Sciences, Karmanos Cancer Center, PI; Dr. Peter Lichtenberg, Head of the Investigator Training Core: This $4 million grant from the National Cancer Institute renews the original Detroit Community Network Program (CNP) for an additional five years. The goal of SEMPAC is to reduce cancer rates among Detroit's older, African American population by scholar training and networking with community organizations.
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Neural Correlates and Modifiers of Cognitive Aging
PI: Raz, N.
NIH/NIA (a MERIT award), 2005-2010, $3 million
  • In this study, we continue and expand the research program that has been conducted in our laboratory for the past 12 years. Our goals are:
  • To describe the course of differential brain aging with a focus on the best-case-scenario naturalistic study of successful aging as defined by Rowe and Kahn. Our objective is to examine the closest approximation to successful physiological aging to be found in an uncontrolled human population.
  • To gain insights into mechanisms of age-related differential brain shrinkage by examining changes in microstructure of the white matter and indirect indices of basal metabolism in the gray matter. We will introduce new imaging method – multi-echo Susceptibility Weighted Imaging (SWI) that will allow measurement of T2* and local field variations with better precision and resolution that by conventional gradient-recall methods.
  • To evaluate the links between age-related regional brain changes (volume, diffusion and magnetization properties, and basal metabolism) and performance in three cognitive domains with known vulnerability to aging: episodic memory, executive functions, and speed of processing.
  • To examine the effect of modifiers of brain and cognitive aging - the vascular risk and genetic factors (arterial blood pressure, homocysteine, C-reactive protein, vitamins of the B-group and glucose) on differential brain and cognitive aging. Because some of the women who participate in the study will be on hormone replacement therapy (HRT), we will assess the potential benefits of HRT on brain aging. The modifying role of ApoE genotype in shaping the trajectories of brain and cognitive aging will be also assessed.
  • Finally, common to all listed aims is a longitudinal approach to study of biological and cognitive change. To attain that overriding goal, we plan to apply longitudinal latent-variable growth modeling techniques to the analysis of our data. We expect to clarify the distinction between precedence and coincidence in the relations among variables described by covariation.

Downsizing Possessions for Residential Moves in Later Life
Co-PIs-WSU Site: Mark Luborsky, PhD & Cathy Lysack, PhD
Funder: National Institutes of Health
The goal of this project is to investigate possession management, disposition, and disposal as an adaptation to the vulnerabilities of age when people move to smaller quarters in later life. In this “Downsizing Households” study the specific aims are to: (1) Describe the strategies and emotions of household downsizing as perceived by those who accomplish a move; (2) Confirm the developmental character of such episodes by examining move circumstances; (3) Identify the heuristics—mental shortcuts—that people use to disband under constraints of limited time and knowledge; and (4) Describe self-representations and explore their role as resources for the accomplishment of downsizing and making a residential move. Investigators with expertise in the study of life reorganization are conducting this study in two-sites: in Lawrence, Kansas, and Detroit, Michigan. In-home interviews will be conducted within 100 households of older persons (age 65 and older) who have moved to smaller quarters in the last year. In addition, there will be interviews in another 50 households twice before and once after the move. The analysis of informants’ accounts will clarify how individuals motivate, execute, and evaluate these transitions. This project will generate practical information for the public and for health and social service professionals that can be applied to catalyze disbandment and facilitate residential relocation as a means to better self care.
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Validation of Integrating Mental Health into Occupational Therapy Practice with Older Adults
Co-PIs : Peter Lichtenberg, PhD & Cathy Lysack, PhD
Funder: Retirement Research Foundation, Chicago, 2010-2012, $207,000

This new study will build upon our RRF-funded, highly successful, educational and evaluation efforts on integrating assessment and treatment of mood disorders into occupational therapy practice with older adults. The original project produced a 7 DVD and 1 CD training series packaged as a box-set to educate and train occupational therapists working in clinical settings with older adults. An additional DVD, focused on strategies to effectively integrating new mental health practices into the real-life work setting was completed in 2009. In this study, we will test this educational intervention in a randomized controlled trial with n=60+ occupational therapists. Already an official CE project at AOTA, we are looking to further validate DVD style education to strengthen skills in related to screening and treating for depression in older adults.

Lifespan Investigation of Family, Health and Environment (LIFHE)
A Lifespan Alliance Collaboration between Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute and Institute of Gerontology

Peter Lichtenberg, PhD, Director of IOG/MPSI; John Hannigan, PhD, Deputy Director, MPSI, Cathy Lysack, PhD, Deputy Director, IOG; Marc Kruman, PhD, Director, Center for the Study of Citizenship & Chair of History, Lisa Ficker, PhD, LIFHE Project Director; Virginia Delaney-Black, MD, Associate Director, Children’s Research Center of Michigan; Bonnie Stanton, MD, Chair of Pediatrics; Teri Albrecht, PhD, Karmanos Cancer Institute

The LIFHE team interviewed 501 African Americans age 55 to 97 to understand senior activities, family relationships, attitudes, finances and health.“Our survey was like taking a ‘snapshot’ of information about people’s lives to better understand their challenges and resources,” Dr. Ficker, LIFHE project director, says.

In urban areas, an estimated 9% of grandparents co-reside with their grandchildren but little research has been done on the quality of these relationships. Almost 80% of LIFHE interviewees had grandchildren and 77 of them lived in the same household with a grandchild or great-grandchild. LIFHE’s financial results showed 50% of seniors were somewhat satisfied with their income; but 28% were not at all satisfied. Seventy percent reported lower income than before they retired and 45% had reduced money spent on extras (such as clothing or recreation) in order to make ends meet. A full 54% of people interviewed live alone and almost 20% provide caregiving services for family members, friends and neighbors.

The data collected by the LIFHE team is now available to other researchers investigating the health, finances and social engagement of older African Americans.
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