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Abbott awards $8 million to 7 studies probing cognition-nutrition link

By Hank Schultz , 05-Jun-2013
Last updated on 05-Jun-2013 at 22:04 GMT

Abbott Nutrition and the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana have announced nearly $8 million in funding for nutrition and cognition studies in the second year of their research partnership.

“It’s our goal to attract the most eminent researchers in the field of cognition and nutrition,” Virginia Giddings, PhD, Director of Global Partner Development for Abbott, told NutraIngredients-USA.

The seven research projects involving nutrition, the brain and cognition were selected by an Executive Committee consisting of Abbott and UIUC panelists as part of a research challenge aimed at elevating nutrition’s role in learning and memory through interdisciplinary research.

Seven studies

Funded research studies center on the connection between nutrition and cognition at all ages. The studies concentrate not only on the affect of ingredients, but also seek to develop new ways of modeling and measuring effects. Selected proposals for 2013 are:

  • Visualizing Diet-Modified Brain Chemistry with Multifaceted Chemical Imaging
  • Cognitive Nutrients and the Brain: Production of Isotopically Labeled Nutrients and Development of Animal Models
  • The Role of Neurotransmitters in Obesity, Food-Choice and Memory-Related Processes
  • Developing Advanced MRI Methods for Detecting the Impact of Nutrients on Infant Brain Development
  • Controlled Trials in ‘At Risk’ Humans to Establish the Cognitive Benefits of a Nutrient Mixture and Underlying Mechanisms of Action
  • Functional Characterization of Cognitive Nutrients During Human Neural Development
  • Protection of Biomolecules by Dietary Nutrients and Exacerbation of Oxidative Stress by Impaired Nutrient Supply 

All primary investigators have their primary appointments at UIUC. Project teams from the first two years include a diverse group of more than 42 UIUC faculty researchers, 19 Abbott Nutrition global research scientists, associates from six Illinois colleges, and collaborators from 15 national and international research facilities. Research will be conducted across 15 departments on the UIUC campus, along with two research institutes: the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and the Institute for Genomic Biology.

Slight decline in funding

Abbott established the research partnership with UIUC, called The Center for Nutrition, Learning, and Memory, in late 2011, with 13 projects being funded in 2012.  The nearly $8 million in funding in 2013 is a decline from the nearly $10 million awarded last year, but is split among fewer projects.

“One of the reasons why we do a partnership like this is the complexity involved in studying this relationship between cognition and nutrition. Choosing a partner like UIUC is about focusing on our core competencies while still capturing the latest technologies in science from experts around the world,” Giddings said.

“In cognition what that means is looking at novel ingredients that have promise in improving cognitive outcomes.  It’s also looking at new tools and techniques,” she said.

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