Meet Alzheimer’s prevention researcher Jessica Langbaum, Ph.D.
A Principal Investigator on several
NIH-funded grants, Dr. Langbaum
has been honored for her work
in Alzheimer’s research.
Dr. Jessica Langbaum is the co-director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative, a collaborative program led by Banner Alzheimer’s Institute. In her 15 years at BAI, she has focused her considerable talents on brain research—more specifically, searching for a way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease before symptoms appear.
A Principal Investigator on several NIH-funded grants, Dr. Langbaum has been honored for her work in Alzheimer’s research. She holds a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience and psychology with high honors from Oberlin College and a Ph.D. in psychiatric epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
One of her current research programs focuses on developing the science of participant recruitment and retention for Alzheimer’s prevention studies, including designing and implementing recruitment registries like the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry and GeneMatch. She recently led a paper with a panel of top-level experts outlining recommendations to improve recruitment into Alzheimer’s clinical trials. The recommendations could increase minority participation and make it more convenient for people to become a part of research.
“We need to make studies more accessible so more people can participate in them,” said Dr. Langbaum. “People are balancing caregiving, work, and life responsibilities which can make trial participation more difficult. We need to make it easier for people to participate in studies.”
Dr. Langbaum sees decentralized trials as a possible answer to making study participation more convenient. The concept is to take research out of traditional medical centers and into the community. Why should someone have to travel across town or to a big city when they can participate in a trial close to home?
“Memory and thinking tests could be taken in the comfort of someone’s home or office instead of study centers,” said Dr. Langbaum. “And blood tests, infusion drugs and brain imaging could all be conducted locally, close to participants’ homes.”
This approach first came to light during the COVID-19 pandemic, when study centers closed to prevent the spread of the virus. It forced the pharmaceutical community to look at how they could conduct trials differently and led to new ways to bring study trials to participants.
Dr. Langbaum is also interested in how the field can shorten the length of studies. Currently, prevention studies take many years since they must start before symptoms appear. She hopes to see the use of more biological measures, such as blood tests and brain imaging, instead of relying on the lengthy process of waiting for memory and thinking changes to occur. This could speed up the time frame from clinical study to bringing a drug to market.
Dr. Langbaum serves on numerous national and international advisory boards, including the American Heart Association’s Oversight Advisory Committee to support increasing diversity in clinical trials. She is a founding member of the governance committee for AARP’s Global Council on Brain Health.