Jerri Edwards ranks #8 among NIH-funded researchers in Psychiatry

USF Health’s Jerri Edwards, PhD, recently ranked #8 among National Institute of Health-funded principal investigators in Psychiatry by the 2018 Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research Rankings, with funding of $4,602,776.

Dr. Edwards, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, was ranked among 1,170 principal investigators in Departments of Psychiatry nationwide.  She is nationally recognized for her research examining the effectiveness of computerized cognitive training in preventing or delaying Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, as well as normal age-related cognitive decline. She also studies how music training may improve cognitive abilities — such as thinking, remembering and reasoning — in older adults who are non-musicians.

Jerri Edwards, PhD

Dr. Edwards is the co-principal investigator for a new $2.7 million randomized controlled clinical trial known as Preventing Alzheimer’s with Cognitive Training, or the PACT study, which is funded by the NIH’s National Institute on Aging.  USF is conducting this first-of-its kind, large primary prevention trial with Michigan State University (David Morgan, PhD, co-principal investigator).  The researchers are examining whether a specific regimen of computer brain exercises can significantly reduce the risk of cognitive decline, or dementias like Alzheimer’s disease, in a healthy, diverse population of adults age 65 or older.

The PACT study builds upon previously published research by Dr. Edwards and others indicating that computerized brain training targeting specific cognitive functions and challenging older adults to adapt their performance over time can help maintain mental and physical function. In the case of the 2017 Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) study, such training even reduced the risk of dementia. Conclusive evidence about whether and how brain training can protect against Alzheimer’s-related cognitive impairment is still needed.

Prevention research takes on increased urgency in the wake of recent failures of investigational Alzheimer’s drugs from major pharmaceutical companies to halt brain degeneration.

For more information on the PACT study go to www.pactstudy.org or call the USF Cognitive Aging Lab at (813) 974-6703.