LuMind RDS Research Partner Jamie Edgin Wins $2.9 Million Grant

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This holiday season, LuMind Research Down Syndrome is celebrating Dr. Jamie Edgin and her newly awarded five-year, $2.9 million grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD) to expand research on developing the Arizona Cognitive Testing Battery.

Dr. Jamie Edgin is an assistant professor of psychology and serves as the associate head of the Cognition and Neural Systems graduate program at the University of Arizona. With the support of this new grant, along with funding from LuMind RDS, Dr. Edgin will be joining forces with collaborators at Drexel University and the MIND Institute at the University of California, Davis to continue to validate an assessment tool she developed. This tool, the Arizona Cognitive Testing Battery, is intended to measure memory and concentration in both typically developing children at younger ages and in children who have intellectual disabilities, including Down syndrome. 

Dr. Edgin’s research at the University of Arizona focuses on assessing human memory in children. Without a standardized tool designed to evaluate memory in very young children and in children who have intellectual disabilities, measuring outcomes in her studies became a difficult and tedious task. Thus, Jamie set out on a mission to develop her own battery of tests that could accurately and efficiently assess memory in children.

What initially began as a tabletop interactive game using her own children’s toys has now become an Android touchscreen-based battery of tests, which Dr. Edgin uses in her research today.

The Arizona Cognitive Testing Battery becomes a critically important tool as experimental drug therapies and other interventions move from laboratory bench to clinical trials: there is a growing need to be able to specifically and reliably assess the efficacy of a treatment on improving the cognitive deficits in children with Down syndrome.

“There are many different behavioral and pharmacological treatments evolving for intellectual disabilities, so that’s why there is an emphasis on trying to to develop outcome measures that can be used in these populations,” Dr. Edgin said.

Current enhancements to the test battery include increased correlation with the cognitive tests  on mice, extending battery tests to younger and older age groups, addition of tests for speech and communication improvement, and identification of potential biomarkers for cognitive function. This will improve the predictability and evaluation of drug efficacy in moving testing in mice through to human trials.

Congratulations, Dr. Jamie Edgin!

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