Announcing the Sue Berghoff
LBD Research Fellowship Fund

WHAT

A fund to support a three-year post-doctoral fellowship at Stanford’s Poston Lab focused expressly on LBD research.

WHY

The U.S. has an aging population, and with it a rise of dementia-related disease. The medical profession faces challenges in diagnosing, and therefore, treating, Lewy Body Dementia. There is a critical need to identify a biomarker for LBD testing to support diagnosis, clinical trials, and development of therapeutic treatments and a cure.

HOW

The Sue’s Story Project is partnering with Stanford, with the goal of raising $450,000 to fund the three-year fellowship. We are currently at nearly 25% of our goal.

LEWY BODY DEMENTIA

Unlocking a fatal brain disease to find answers and a cure

by Dr. Kathleen Poston

Dr. Kathleen Poston, Stanford

THE NEED

Dementia is among the nation’s fastest increasing causes of death and Disability-Adjusted Life Years*, and Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) is the second most common neurodegenerative cause of dementia. Thus, LBD is a looming public health crisis.

Unfortunately, current clinical and biological assessments cannot accurately diagnose people with LBD, nor can they predict how quickly the dementia symptoms will progress. Moreover, brain autopsies have revealed several different pathologies that likely contribute to the clinical symptoms experienced by patients. Thus, there is considerable urgency to identify a biomarker (clinical or biological marker) with three outcomes in mind:

  • to help accurately diagnose LBD patients,
  • to help predict the clinical symptoms a patient might experience, and
  • to help identify the underlying brain changes or pathology causing the LBD symptoms.

THE GOAL

The goal of the Poston Lab is to have a full-time post-doctoral Research Fellow dedicated to biomarker discovery in people with LBD.

Our Lab leverages existing Stanford-specific research infrastructure from the Stanford Alzheimer’s disease Research Center and the Pacific Udall Center for Excellence in Parkinson’s Research. These Centers collect in-depth clinical, biological, and imaging data on people with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, people with Lewy Body Dementia, and older adults with no neurological problems.

Our dedicated Research Fellow would use this data, aiming to identify a biomarker that would improve diagnostic accuracy, predict clinical symptoms, or identify underlying pathology. Such a biomarker is critical to the success of future LBD-specific clinical trials, which are critical to the development of potential therapies and a cure.

*Disability-adjusted Life Years: a measure of overall disease burden, expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death. who.int/healthinfo/global_burden_disease/metrics_daly/en/

“As a physician, it is devastating to watch your patient succumb to dementia, knowing there is nothing you can do to stop or slow the inevitable decay of the mind. My patients with LBD often seem to be the hardest hit, compared to other causes of dementia, since LBD impacts thinking and behavior in addition to movement. These experiences as a physician fuel my motivation as a scientist to dedicate a fellow in my lab to biomarker development that will ultimately change the experience of dementia in patients with LBD.”

—Dr. Kathleen Poston, Stanford

About Dr. Poston

Dr. Kathleen Poston is Associate Professor of Neurology at Stanford University. She completed her Movement Disorders fellowship training at Columbia University and a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Feinstein Institute, joining the Stanford faculty in 2009. She is Co-Director, Stanford Lewy Body Dementia Research Center of Excellence; Clinical Core Leader, Pacific Udall Center at Stanford; and Clinical Core Co-Leader of the Stanford ADRC. Dr. Poston’s research lab (Poston Lab) is focused on understanding cognitive and other non-motor impairments that develop in patients with Lewy body pathology.