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Dr. Michael Gitcho, the recipient of a $100,000 grant for Alzheimer research, stands with Katie Macklin, executive director for the Delaware region of the Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter, during her recent visit to DSU. The national Alzheimer's Association provided the research grant for Dr. Gitcho's work.

  DSU's Dr. Michael Gitcho Receives $100,000 Research Grant


Dr. Michael Gitcho, a DSU assistant professor of biological sciences, was recently awarded a $100,000 research grant from the Alzheimer’s Association to support his ongoing investigations in the area of Alzheimer’s disease. 
 
Dr. Gitcho’s research focuses on a protein (TDP-43) that is critical to the normal function of the brain cell.  When TDP-43 is altered, this results in the development of neurological diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and dementia.  Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 70 to 80% of all cases, and the greatest risk factor is aging. 
 
This progressive disease slowly destroys memory, thinking and reasoning, and over time it makes even the simplest tasks impossible to do.  Currently, there are an estimated 5.3 million people aged 65 and older with the disease and it is projected that over the next 10 years there will be an additional 10 million diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. 
 
Dr. Gitcho and colleagues have observed that mice engineered to have a pathology similar to that observed in Alzheimer's disease also have an increased level of abnormal TDP-43 (TDP-43 has been found to be altered in up to 50% of those with Alzheimer’s disease).  Dr. Gitcho is hopeful that his research will provide insights into the relationship between TDP-43 and Alzheimer’s disease which could provide us a better understanding of how this devastating disease progresses and, in turn, lead to the development of new therapeutics.
 
Dr. Leonard Davis, chair, Department of Biological Sciences, stated that “Alzheimer’s disease is a major public health issue that devastates not only the patient but the entire family.  Dr. Gitcho’s research, supported by the Alzheimer’s Association, is opening new avenues of possible treatments that could remedy this disease.  It is a great opportunity for our students to participate in such ‘cutting edge’ research.”
 
Dr. Noureddine Melikechi, dean of the DSU College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology, said that DSU is proud to partner with the Alzheimer’s Association. “In particular, we are pleased to have Dr. Gitcho working on a disease that affects such a vast number of citizens. Out of this collaboration, we look forward to building a stronger relationship with the Alzheimer’s Association as we grow the sciences at DSU, especially in the area of neuroscience,” said Dr. Melikechi, who also serves as the University’s vice president for Research, Innovation and Economic Development.
 
Dr. Gitcho joined DSU in the Fall of 2013 and maintains a lab in the Biological Sciences department.
 
The Delaware Valley Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association is the local arm of the national nonprofit organization, serving 18 counties in Delaware, South Jersey, and Southeastern Pennsylvania. The Chapter provides programs and services to more than 294,000 individuals and families affected by Alzheimer’s or a related disorder. For information about the Chapter and the disease, visit alz.org/desjsepa, or call the 24/7 Helpline at (800) 272-3900.