$100K grant funds COVID impact research

Photo of Pariya Wheeler

By Erica Techo

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing Associate Professor Pariya Wheeler, PhD, has received a two-year, $100,000 grant to study the neuropsychological impact of COVID-19 in older adults. It is one of UAB’s first grants examining the cognitive effects of COVID.

The grant is one of eight awards from the National Academy of Neuropsychology and the Alzheimer’s Association. NAN and the Alzheimer’s Association partnered to provide $800,000 to build a greater understanding of how the pandemic has impacted populations that are disproportionately impacted by COVID but also underrepresented in research.

“We recognize that COVID-19 is associated with cognitive complications,” said NAN Executive Director William Perry, Ph.D., NAN Executive Director. “It’s apparent that older people from underserved communities are more frequently infected and are disproportionately experiencing the consequences of health care disparities.”

Wheeler’s study will recruit 100 adults ages 65 and older who had COVID-19. Over the course of a year, Wheeler will collect data on neurocognitive functions, blood biomarkers and symptoms of acute COVID-19. Data from the UAB Alzheimer’s Disease Center will be a control comparison group.

“Given the COVID-19 disparities and burden in the South, our cohort of older adults with COVID-19 from which to recruit is large and racially diverse. This study will enroll 50 percent African-American participants,” Wheeler said. “The research infrastructure to conduct this study at UAB is also exceptional, including the ability to leverage the UAB Alzheimer’s Disease Center for a comparison cohort. I believe these factors helped set my research apart, leading to the receipt of this grant.”

Wheeler’s study is also in collaboration with the UAB NeuroCOVID Group, a collaborative working group that formed in March 2020.

Last modified on April 07, 2022

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