Zachary Marcum, PhD, PharmD was recently awarded the Paul B. Beeson Emerging Leaders Career Development Award (K76) from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and The John A. Hartford Foundation.
Notably, Zach is the first pharmacist to receive the grant, which is typically awarded to physician-investigators. This initiative is focused on clinically trained, early-stage investigators who take an active leadership role in creating transformative changes that will lead to improved health care outcomes in the field of aging and geriatrics research.
Granting the Beeson Award to a pharmacist acknowledges the important role pharmacists play on the health care team, particularly for older adults. Four out of every five people over age 65 take more than one prescription medication, making it vital to have pharmacists’ medication expertise included in their care teams.
Zach’s research looks at whether certain blood pressure medicines are protective against dementia. Mounting evidence suggests that certain antihypertensives may reduce one’s risk of dementia if taken during mid-life. This research is important as there are currently no disease-modifying treatments for dementia. Finding preventative therapies like these already-approved medications may help stave off dementia for certain patients and could offer a new preventative option for people at risk for dementia.
“In addition to the support for my research, this grant also provides many opportunities for training, particularly in methods that will be important for observational studies,” Zach shared. “How do we know if a relationship, such as lower rates of dementia in patients on a particular drug, is associated or causal? For that training, I will complete both didactic courses and mentored experiences led by experts in the field to learn more.”
Understanding the relationship between blood pressure medicines and dementia is vital for finding drugs that could be effective in delaying or reducing the effects of dementia.
“We want to employ the most robust methods to ensure that our results and meaningful and impactful in people’s lives.”—Zach Marcum, Bailey Faculty Fellow and Assistant Director of Research for the Plein Center for Geriatric Pharmacy
Zach will use data from the Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) study, led by Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, which focuses on studying how cognition changes with aging and thus offers opportunities to study dementia prevention. In addition, he will work with researchers in UW’s Neuropathology department.
This 3-year, approximately $700,000 grant, will investigate the association between long-term antihypertensive use and brain health, including Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.