USC Leonard Davis School professors are launching studies to combat misinformation and Alzheimer’s disease. As recipients of the 2023 Hanson-Thorell Family Research Awards, Assistant Professors Teal Eich and Ryo Sanabria each received $25,000 for one-year pilot projects to explore these important areas in aging research.
Eich’s proposal, “Misinformation: Do Confidence and Value Modulate Older Adults’ Susceptibility?”, examines why older adults may be more prone to believing misinformation, particularly focusing on whether cognitive decline can make it more difficult to distinguish between accurate and inaccurate information.
“While considerable evidence suggests that older adults are vulnerable to endorsing and incorporating false information, less is known about why this is, and how to stop it,” said Eich. “I’m honored to receive this award and to begin research that can help pave the way for developing interventions to improve information processing in older adults.”
Sanabria’s proposal, “Hijacking Cellular Stress Responses to Combat Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease,” explores how organisms respond to stress and how these responses break down during the aging process. Specifically, the proposal focuses on whether Alzheimer’s disease progression is, at least in part, correlated with stress resilience, an organism’s capacity to respond to stress – a response that decreases as we age and can lead to a loss of functionality.
“Since my lab studies how boosting stress resilience can be used as an “anti-aging” vehicle, it seemed a logical question to ask whether boosting stress resilience can also be ‘anti-disease’”, said Sanabria. “I hypothesize that promoting stress responses to cellular function will promote health and mitigate pathology of Alzheimer’s disease and am grateful to the Hanson-Thorell family for allowing me to advance research in this area.”
The Hanson-Thorell Family Research Award recognizes the importance of innovative research and encourages young scientists to push the boundaries of their fields. The award, supported in part by Board of Councilors Chair Shari Thorell and her husband Bob, originated with funding from Shari’s father and former Board of Councilors Chairman Al Hanson.