The Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS) continues to build on its stellar legacy with a NIH R01 supporting the collection of cognitive data and a Research Forward award for the Hmoob Lub Neej project, a study exploring aging in Wisconsin’s Hmong community.
What began as a survey to gauge college preparedness among Wisconsin’s Class of 1957 high school seniors evolved into a longitudinal study on the profound experience of cognitive disease in later life. The WLS has been continuously supported by the National Institutes of Health since 1991, and was renewed for another 5-year round of cognitive assessments in summer 2023. The total budget for the 5-year renewal is $50 million, and the project is led by Sanjay Asthana (professor & chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology within the Department of Medicine and the Director of the NIA/NIH Wisconsin-Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health), Michal Engelman (Principal Investigator of the WLS and Director of CDHA), and Pamela Herd (Professor of Public Policy at Georgetown and former PI of the WLS).
The new R01 continues the Initial Lifetime’s Impact on Alzheimer’s Disease (ILIAD) study. Under this R01, the study will continue to track dementia in the WLS cohort, collect blood samples, and identify outpoints for blood-based biomarkers of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). It will also examine how accumulated social advantage and adversity influence risk and resilience against dementia onset, with attention to sex/gender differences. Finally, the study will include comparisons of the relationship between advantage, adversity and AD biomarkers in the WLS cohort and a sample of African American and Indigenous participants enrolled in a study at the Wisconsin ADRC.
The WLS has launched ancillary studies — titled Diversity, Inclusion and Aging in the Midwest: Opportunities for New Directions (DIAMOND) — to compare the aging experiences of the original cohort with those of other groups aging in Wisconsin. A new Research Forward award will support the Hmoob Lub Neej project, led by PIs Maichou Lor and Michal Engelman, along with co-investigator Jennifer Dykema, and a Hmong community partner, the Wisconsin United Coalition of Mutual Assistance Associations (WUCMAA). The project focuses on understanding the life histories and health concerns of older Hmong refugees, as limited health and wellbeing research exists on Wisconsin’s largest Asian-American population. Learn more about the project here.