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Oct 23

Nursing Professor Seeks to Boost Brain Function in People With Type 2 Diabetes – University of Arkansas Newswire

University Relations

Assistant professor Tingting Liu was awarded a $446,268 grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Tingting Liu, an assistant professor at the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing, was recently awarded a three-year, $446,268 grant from the National Institutes of Health to help improve brain function among people with Type 2 diabetes through targeted exercise.

"Type 2 diabetes impairs the brain, leading to diminished learning and thinking," Liu said. "Our long-term goal is to develop a personalized exercise program for high-risk individuals susceptible to cognitive dysfunction based on their genomic profiles."

Liu explained that regular exercise improves brain function among healthy people through the release of certain brain chemicals like brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF supports normal thinking processes.

She and other University of Arkansas College of Education and Health Professions colleagues, including Wen-Juo Lo and Michelle Gray, will test an aerobic exercise program to see if it will improve learning and thinking abilities as well as BDNF levels.They will also examine certain genetic variants that influence the release of BDNF. This research may show an important impact oncognitive outcomes and plasma BDNF levels in response to exercise intervention.

Changwei Li from Tulane University will collaborate with Liu and her colleagues on the genetics portion of the research.

"Dr. Liu is a remarkable scientist who is deeply deserving of this award," said Dean Brian Primack, who reviewed and edited the materials Liu submitted to the NIH. "We are delighted that she is part of our community, and we look forward to the tremendous impact her research will make on the lives of older adults."

Liu hopes the study's findings will help explainsignificant variability in individual response to exercise programs in cognitive outcomes. Although awareness of Type 2 diabetes-related cognitive dysfunction is increasing, Liu only found one recent clinical trial using insulin administered through the nose to improve memory performance among patients. That demonstrates a significant gap and highlights the importance of this new study, she said, which will provide further evidence on the use of exercise as a non-pharmaceutical, low-cost intervention to improve cognition in this population.

The Eleanor Mann School of Nursing has been awarded multiple grants over the past 14 years and this funding will continue to strengthen the research environment, Liu said.

I am proud of our faculty and their contributions as community-minded leaders, as educators, and as researchers and experts in promoting health," said Susan Patton, chair of the nursing school. "Dr. Liu's research will make a significant contribution to the science of 'exercise as medicine.'"

About the College of Education and Health Professions:The College of Education and Health Professions offers advanced academic degrees as well as professional development opportunities and learning communities in service to the education and health systems of Arkansas and beyond. The college provides the education and experiences for a variety of professional roles, ranging from community mental health counselors to school teachers and leaders. Programs in adult and higher education, along with educational technology and sport management, offer a broad range of options. In addition to education-related opportunities, the college prepares nurses, speech-language pathologists, health educators and administrators, recreation professionals, rehabilitation counselors and human performance researchers.

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Nursing Professor Seeks to Boost Brain Function in People With Type 2 Diabetes - University of Arkansas Newswire

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