B.Sc. 1991. University of Toronto, Neuroscience
M.A. 1992. University of Toronto, Psychology
Ph.D. 1997 University of Toronto, Collaborative Program in Neuroscience
The goals of our research are to identify interventions that may prevent the onset and/or progression of Alzheimer disease and thus promote healthy brain aging. To do this our lab tests hypotheses using a canine model of human brain aging with a focus on testing combination treatment approaches, each approach targeting different pathological pathways associated with aging or Alzheimer disease. Canines naturally develop learning and memory impairments with age as well as similar types of brain pathology. Our studies are multidisciplinary and extend from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to testing cognitive function (learning and memory) and neurobiological studies (anatomical, genomics and proteomics). We currently are testing the hypothesis that vaccination with beta-amyloid peptide when combined with behavioral enrichment will lead to significant improvements in cognition and reductions in neuropathology in aged canines.
In parallel with studies that seek to identify new treatment options for healthy brain aging we are also characterizing changes in cognition, blood protein levels and white matter changes by magnetic resonance imaging in middle aged and older adults with Down syndrome. People with Down syndrome are at high risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease particularly after the age of 40 years due to their extra copy of chromosome 21. This NIH funded study is testing the hypothesis that frontal dysfunction may be an early sign of transition to dementia in adults with Down syndrome. In the future we hope to use promising treatment strategies developed in animal model systems and translating our research into human clinical trials for people with Down syndrome.
R01 AG031764 (Head, E)
National Institutes of Health (NIA)
Beta-Amyloid Immunization in a Canine Model of Aging
The goal of this project is to test the hypothesis that a combination treatment with beta-amyloid immunization with behavioral enrichment will improve cognition and reduce Alzheimer-disease like neuropathology in aged dogs.
R01 HD064993 (Head, E./Schmitt F.A. Co-PI)
National Institutes on Health (NICHD/NIA)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development
Aging of Frontal Structure and Function in Down Syndrome and Dementia
Cotman, CW, Head, E. (2008). The canine (dog) model of human aging and disease: dietary, environmental and immunotherapy approaches. J. Alzheimers Dis. 15(4): 685-707.
Head, E., Pop, V., Vasilevko, V., Hill, M., Saing, T., Sarsoza, F., Nistor, M., Christie, L., Milton, S., Glabe, C., Barrett, E., Cribbs, D. (2008). A 2-Year Study with Fibrillar Aβ Immunization in Aged Canines: Effects on Cognitive Function and Brain Aβ. Journal of Neuroscience, 28: 3555-3566.
Opii,W.O., Joshi , G., Head, E., Milgram, N.W., Muggenburg, B.A., Klein, J.B., Pierce, W.M., Cotman, C.W., Butterfield, D.A.. (2008). Proteomic Identification of Brain Proteins in the Canine Model of Human Aging Following a Long-Term Treatment with Antioxidants and a Program of Behavioral Enrichment: Relevance to Alzheimer’s Disease. Neurobiology of Aging, 29(1): 51-70.
Milgram, N.W., Siwak-Tapp, C.T., Araujo, J., Head, E. (2006). Neuroprotective effects of cognitive enrichment. Ageing Research Reviews, 5: 354-369. Tapp, P.D., Head, K., Head, E., Milgram, N.W., Muggenburg, B.A., Su, M.-Y. (2006).
Application of an Automated Voxel-based Morphometry Technique to Assess Regional Gray and White Matter Brain Atrophy in a Canine Model of Aging. NeuroImage, 29(1): 234-244.
Milgram, N.W., Head, E., Zicker, SC., Ikeda-Douglas, C.J., Murphey, H. Muggenburg, B. Siwak, C., Tapp, D, Cotman, CW (2005). Learning ability in aged beagle dogs is preserved by behavioral enrichment and dietary fortification: A two-year longitudinal study. Neurobiology of Aging. 26:77-90.
Tapp, P.D., Siwak, C.T., Gao, F.Q., Choui, J.Y., Black, S.E., Head, E., Muggenburg, B.A., Cotman, C.W., Milgram, N.W., Su, M.-Y. 2004). Frontal lobe volume, function and Aβ Pathology in a canine model of aging. Journal of Neuroscience, 24(38): 8205-8213.
Dowling, A.L., Head, E. Antioxidants in the Canine Model of Human Aging. (2012) BBA - Molecular Basis of Disease, 1822(5):685-690.
Lott, I.T., Doran, E., Nguyen, V., Tournay, A., Head, E., Gillen, D.L. (2011). Down Syndrome and Dementia: a Randomized, Controlled Trial of Antioxidant Supplementation. American Journal of Medical Genetics A., 155A(8): 1939-1948.
Cenini, G., Dowling, A.L.S., Beckett. T., Barone, E., Mancuso, C., Murphy, M.P., Levine, H., Lott, I.T., Schmitt, F.A., Butterfield, D.A., Head, E. (2012). Association between frontal cortex oxidative damage and beta-amyloid as a function of age in Down syndrome. Bioichim Biphys Acta, 1822(2): 130-138.
Head, E. Doran, E., Nistor, M., Schmitt, F.A., Haier, R.J., and Lott, I.T. (2011). Plasma Aβ as a function of age, level of intellectual disability and presence of dementia in Down syndrome. Journal of Alzheimer’s disease, 23(3): 391-398.
Head, E., Powell, D., Gold, B.T., Schmitt. F.A. Alzheimer’s Disease in Down syndrome. European Journal of Neurodegenerative Disease, in press.