Alzheimer's researcher gets 2013 Skandia Lennart Levi Prize

Stockholm, June 24 (IANS) Miia Kivipelto, professor of clinical geriatric epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet (KI), has been named the winner of the 2013 Skandia Lennart Levi Prize.

Kivipelto, who works at KI's Alzheimer Centre and at the Aging Research Centre (ARC), will receive the prize for her research on dementia and Alzheimer's disease, which has identified several treatable risk factors and provided a more optimistic outlook for the prevention and treatment of these diseases.

Kivipelto has demonstrated that high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, overweight, a lack of exercise, and a high intake of saturated fats and alcohol are factors that increase the risk of dementia.

Professor Kivipelto's research group examines how environment and heredity interact to impair memory.

She is in charge of several epidemiological and clinical projects and is engaged in collaborative projects with colleagues in Sweden and Finland.

She initiated the Nordic Brain Network cooperation forum, which has helped increase the resources available for the research field and improved the exchange of information on the ageing brain and related disorders.

"Miia Kivipelto's research is extremely important, particularly now when more and more people are living longer," said Nancy Pedersen, chair of the award committee.

"Dementia affects not only the sufferers, but also their families and society in general. Prophylactic work in this field is therefore a major challenge to future public health and the public economy."

Speaking exclusively to IANS, Kivipelto said: "Although our work has direct significance globally, there are some regions of greater interest of study for our team than others. South Asia is one of these areas."

"We have carried out extensive studies in Bangladesh, the results of which have not yet been published. However, the challenges we have faced there are quite unique and will require a characteristic configuration."

She said that, though her team's research has not yet extended to India yet, the country "is very much on our map and I am convinced that we have great, hitherto unexplored scope there".

The Skandia Lennart Levi Prize for health-promotive research was established to mark the 80th birthday of Lennart Levi in 2010.

The candidates should be internationally outstanding researchers active in Sweden or abroad. The recipients are selected by a panel comprising professors from Karolinska Institutet.

The prize is carries an award of 100,000 Swedish kroner and will be presented at Karolinska Institutet's installation ceremony Oct 24 this year.


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