Alzheimer's Disease Research Fellowship Awarded to UND SMHS Faculty

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News Article

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Campus Unit

School of Medicine & Health Sciences


Fargo, N.D. – Harpeet Kaur, PhD, a researcher in the SMHS Department of Biomedical Sciences, recently received the 2017 Alzheimer's Association Research Fellowship for her work to help end a disease that impacts over 14,000 people in North Dakota. Over the course of three years Kaur will receive $175,000 to study the effect of probiotic supplementation on the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

“We have a lot of patients suffering from this disease, and a lot of medical care is being spent on people with it,” said Kaur, who works in Colin Combs's lab. “I want to study the role of gut-brain interaction in Alzheimer’s and develop novel therapeutic approach aimed at intestinal microbiota to slow down the progression of the disease.”

Alzheimer’s is characterized primarily by brain changes, such as the clumping of harmful beta-amyloid and tau protein. Recent studies, however, have found that the disease may also be linked to changes in the bacteria of the intestine. These bacteria help control how the body breaks down substances, and alterations in this system have been shown to affect brain chemistry in ways that either promote or reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.

For their current grant, Kaur and her team will conduct a large study on mice models of Alzheimer’s. They’ll feed the mice a probiotic nutritional supplement that has health promoting bacteria, which populate the intestines and “crowd out” disease promoting bacteria, hypothetically promoting a benefit against Alzheimer’s.

“By the end, we hope that our study will assist in earlier diagnosis of AD with a focus on peripheral biomarkers within the intestine,” said Kaur. “We’re hoping to find a stronger connection between diet and your brain.”

About the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-Dakota Chapter

The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support, and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. Visit or call the 24/7 Helpline 800.272.3900 for support.


Bridget Rissmann

Public Relations Manager

Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota


Brian James Schill

Assistant Director, Office of Alumni and Community Relations

University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences