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Junior Faculty Member Selected for Alzheimer’s Equity Research Program

The Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) has selected Sonya Kaur, Ph.D., instructor of neurology in the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Division of Neuropsychology, as a junior faculty scholar in the ADNI Health Equity Scholars Program.

Alzheimer's researcher Dr. Sonya Kaur
Sonya Kaur, Ph.D.

Each year the ADNI chooses junior-level researchers either from underrepresented background or who are interested in health equity research to receive targeted mentored training. Dr. Kaur will receive a $90,000 grant to further her research goals.

“This opportunity will allow me to continue my growth as a scientist,” Dr. Kaur said. “As an ADNI recipient, I will get the opportunity for time and training in health disparities and genetic risk factors on low-income Latino populations.”

Inclusivity in Neurocognitive Research

Dr. Kaur’s research looks into the intersection between sleep health and neurocognitive aging. More specifically, Dr. Kaur studies health disparities in older Latino adults, a population that is the most likely to develop dementia along with prevalent sleep problems.

“Unfortunately, a lot of the traditional research regarding Alzheimer’s has focused on larger, non-minority populations,” Dr. Kaur said. “As an immigrant myself, I understand the importance of having studies done with multiple populations, since findings from one demographic may not apply to another.”

Alzheimer's researcher Dr. Sonya Kaur
Sonya Kaur, Ph.D., with tools she uses for neurocognitive testing

During the research training, Dr. Kaur will work with her mentor Tatjana Rundek, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neurology, Evelyn F. McKnight Chair for Learning and Memory in Aging and scientific director of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute. Dr. Kaur will receive training in basic, clinical, translational and community-engaged research competencies that will position her to become a successful independent investigator.

Funds from the grant will be equally allocated to research in genetic risk for short sleep duration in Latinos and coursework to gain more competitive skills for National Institutes of Health grants.

“This is the first ADNI award given to junior faculty in our institution,” Dr. Rundek said. “I am so proud of Dr. Kaur for being selected, as she will gain competencies in the field while receiving a unique opportunity to use ADNI datasets. In addition, she will have access to national expert scientists and mentors who are united in understanding the causes of Alzheimer’s disease, defining its progression and alleviating Alzheimer’s disease.”

Tags: ADNI, ADNI Health Equity Scholars Program, Alzheimer's disease, Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, Department of Neurology, diversity in medicine, Division of Neuropsychology, Dr. Sonya Kaur, Dr. Tatjana Rundek