Aging and Neurodegeneration

According to the US Census Bureau, approximately 20% of the population is expected to be 65 years and older by 2030. Consequently, there is a great need for clearer understanding of the physiological changes and mechanisms that are involved in healthy aging as well as in aging-associated neurological conditions. Researchers in the Department of Behavioral Neuroscience are focusing their efforts on various aspects of aging, including perturbation of circadian rhythms, neuroendocrine changes, behavioral changes and cognitive decline, and also on related neurodegeneration diseases including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, and stroke. Through the use of rodent and nonhuman primate animal models and human research, and a wide range of methodologies (e.g., magnetic resonance imaging, immunohistochemistry, gene expression profiling, and state-of-the-art neurosurgical techniques), the researchers hope to develop biomarkers of healthy aging and age-related neurological conditions and ultimately safe and effectives therapies for human aging-associated disorders of the central nervous system. Their multi-disciplinary efforts are emphasized by a variety of collaborative grants, including an NIH T32 Neuroscience of Aging training grant for postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, and a highly popular Neuroscience of Aging graduate course (BEHN 627/628/629). The Aging and Neurodegeneration focus group also forms a key component of the OHSU Healthy Aging Alliance which brings together more than 60 researchers and health providers at OHSU, as well as lay persons in the community to promote healthy aging through partnerships, discovery, education, and outreach.