UF receives grant to study effects of weight-loss surgery on brain, memory function

Ronald A. Cohen, Ph.D.

GAINESVILLE, FL – University of Florida researchers have received a $572,000 grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) to conduct a first of its kind study on the effects of bariatric (weight–loss) surgery on brain function, thinking, and memory.

The WISE (Weightloss Intervention Surgical Effects) Brain Study will use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine anatomical and functional measures associated with brain-aging. Bariatric surgery will serve as the bases for understanding any effects on cognitive performance. Adults between 20–75 years old with a BMI greater than 35 with or without type 2 diabetes are eligible to enroll.

During the five-year observational study, half of the patients will undergo bariatric surgery at UF Health Shands Hospital and other surgical centers in Gainesville, FL. Last year, nearly 30% of obese patients who elected to undergo bariatric surgery at UF Health hospitals also had a confirmed type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

The study is being conducted partly in response to a decades-worth of research calling for Alzheimer’s disease – a memory disorder affecting one in seven people aged 65 or older — to be reclassified as “Type III diabetes.” Emerging research evidence suggests that the current epidemics of type 2 diabetes and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease occur similarly through events which lead to insulin resistance. The study will measure blood sugar levels and other proteins that may act as biomarkers for disease with the potential to mitigate these in future studies and remediate cognitive performance.

Ronald Cohen, PhD, Director of the UF Cognitive Aging and Memory Clinical Translational Research Program (CAM-CTRP), is principal investigator for the study. Approximately ten UF-COM interdisciplinary faculty will also co-implement the study’s lead aims; representing the Department of Surgery, Department of Clinical Health and Psychology, the CTSI Imaging Core, McKnight Brain Institute, Institute on Aging, and UF Diabetes Institute.

Click here to learn more about this study, or call 352-294-5837.