Winthrop head researcher studies type 1 diabetes’ cognitive impact

Winthrop head researcher studies type 1 diabetes’ cognitive impact
Dr. Alan M. Jacobson, chief research officer at NYU Winthrop, will study the cognitive impact of type 1 diabetes on aging patients with the disease. (Photo courtesy of NYU Winthrop)

Researchers at NYU Winthrop are hoping to determine the long-term cognitive impact type 1 diabetes has on patients.

Dr. Alan M. Jacobson, chief research officer at Winthrop, received a five-year grant of over $4.2 million from the National Institute of Health to examine the brain structure and thinking processes of aging patients with the disease, according to a Winthrop press release.

Jacobson said it would be wonderful to find no difference between the type 1 diabetes group and the control group, but said that is unlikely.

“I do think we will find a difference and accounting for that difference will likely be a patients history of high blood sugars, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, or severe low-blood sugar reactions,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson’s study will be part of the Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications study that has followed individuals with diabetes for over 30 years, according to the press release. The core study centered on 1,441 patients, most of who are still alive, Jacobson said.

Under the NIH grant, Jacobson will evaluate around 1,200 patients. The average age of patients being studied is 60.

The grant money will go toward collecting data at 27 sites across the country, and two in Canada. It will also cover expenses for MRI’s and MRI evaluations.

Jacobson will serve as principal investigator and analyze the patients as they enter an age period that typically includes cognitive decline, a Winthrop spokesman said.

Through his research, Jacobson and his research team will determine predictors of neurocognitive impairments and guide strategies to mitigate the risk, according to the press release.

“Patients have increasing concerns about the extent to which diabetes can influence cognitive ability and brain functioning as they enter the age of greatest risk for impairment,” Jacobson said in a release. “This study can help determine whether these effects occur and help identify modifiable risk factors that can be addressed by proper treatment.”

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