University or Institution

Colorado State University

Primary Mentor

Stephanie McGrath, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Neurology)

Associate Professor and Service Chief of Neurology

[email protected]

Mentor Team

Julie Moreno, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Radiological and Health Sciences

Nicole Ehrhart, VMD, MS, DACVS

Professor, Department of Clinical Sciences, Director, Columbine Health Systems Center for Healthy Aging

Sue VandeWoude, DVM, DACLAM

University Distinguished Professor, Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology

Director, One Health Institute

Brice McConnell, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor, University of Colorado Department of Neurology, University of Colorado Alzheimer's and Cognition Center

Aga Burzynska, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies. Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Neurosciences


Description of Potential Research Projects

The dog is an ideal animal model for human aging and neurodegeneration, due to its condensed lifespan and its spontaneous development of cognitive dysfunction (CD). Using a multidisciplinary team approach, the research program at CSU aims to: 1) study the mechanism and associated risk factors of aging and canine CD; 2) develop antemortem diagnostic assays to detect disease; and 3) use the dog as a surrogate for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in therapeutic clinical trials.

Specific funded translational clinical research opportunities include: 1) “Testing the validity of using a biochemical analytical assay for diagnosing canine cognitive dysfunction, as a translational model for Alzheimer’s disease” – the objective is to develop an antemortem analytical assay for diagnosing canine CD to be used as a naturally-occurring translational model for AD. Using blood and CSF samples from client-owned dogs with CD, the assay will be used to detect targeted misfolded proteins, GFAP, and NFL. 2) “Investigating the effect of cannabidiol (CBD) and CBD-trazodone combination treatment on naturally occurring canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome as a surrogate for Alzheimer’s disease” – the objective is to evaluate the effect of CBD (+/- trazodone) in dogs with naturally-occurring CD as a model for AD. Dogs with CD are enrolled in a blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial, with the objective of evaluating the effect of CBD with and without trazodone on disease progression, which will be assessed using validated owner questionnaires, serial neurological examinations, conventional and novel MRI variations, and blood and CSF bioassay data analysis.

Additional Training Opportunities:

Courses and grant writing workshops:

• Translational Medicine Institute (TMI): The TMI offers NIH workshops to hone grant writing skills for success in research funding. These grant-focused suites of offerings include workshops, write-on-site sessions for accountability, and options reader feedback.

• GRANT Writes: GRANT Writes includes presentations, retreats, weekly writing sessions, and low-stakes accountability to support writing productivity and grant quality.

• NIH Writes: NIH Writes is a year-long endeavor to support NIH proposal writers and to increase submission and funding rates at CSU.

Opportunities to present research findings:

• College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Research Day: Our annual symposium showcases cutting edge research and innovative research approaches, with the goal of enhancing collaboration and communication between basic and clinical researchers.

• TMI Research Pillar Talks: The goal of the weekly TMI Talks series is to provide a forum in which to present topics related to research, including research ideas, research support, innovation support, proposals, protocols, data, abstracts, posters, or oral presentations for discussion with colleagues, feedback, and exchange of ideas.

• American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Annual Forum: The purpose of the annual forum is to bring state-of-the-art information to veterinarians. It is the primary specialty-focused veterinary event.

• Alzheimer’s Association International Conference: AAIC is just one example of a world-class conference with the goal of sharing breaking research discoveries. A number of conferences would be available to the postdoc for sharing data with experts in the field of aging, dementia, and Alzheimer's.