Published September 15, 2023
Carleara Weiss, a research assistant professor and alumna of the School of Nursing’s PhD program, was awarded a K99 grant in September 2022 by the National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Aging) to study a potential low-cost intervention to improve sleep quality and cognition. In 2023, she was awarded year two and an administrative supplement to continue her work.
Weiss says poor sleep quality and short sleep duration are associated with cognitive impairment in older adults, and these could be underlying factors in memory problems among people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. This may happen because sleep problems potentially reduce the levels of a brain protein, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, that helps our brains stay healthy.
In her previous work, Weiss and fellow researchers found that nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) – a coenzyme central to metabolism – improved physical performance and cognition in aged mice. They found that NADs may support improved sleep quality by boosting those energy-producing parts of our cells and enhance the proteins that keep brains healthy.
Weiss’ objective is to apply what she has learned from her previous work to human subjects. She aims to confirm the potential of nicotinamide riboside, a form of vitamin B3 that is synthesized from NAD+, as a low-risk and low-cost intervention to improve sleep quality, sleep duration and cognitive function among older adults.
“Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias may affect 13 million individuals by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association,” says Weiss. “My research aims to prevent dementia by tackling sleep and its relationships with brain health.”
Weiss has extensive research experience in sleep and circadian rhythms and clinical training in geriatrics and behavioral sleep medicine. She is an NIH Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC) Scholar, a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society and participates in several professional development workshops and clinical studies. Her project mentors include geriatrics and sleep expert Rebecca Lorenz, PhD, RN (The Ohio State University); geriatric and sleep medicine expert Brienne Miner, MD, MHS (Yale University); and sleep medicine and veteran health care expert M. Jeffery Mador, MD (UBMD Internal Medicine).
Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number K99AG079117. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
By SARAH GOLDTHRITE