Protecting Our Mind: Where We Stand Against Our Fight With Alzheimer’s

Hand holding figure of a brain

Alzheimer’s is a common type of dementia that affects memory, thinking, and behavior which will eventually grow severe enough to begin interfering with day-to-day tasks.

According to there is an estimated 6.7 million Americans aged 65 or older that currently live with Alzheimer’s dementia, this number is expected to reach 14 million by 2060. The number of people who are caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s is estimated to be more than 11 million.

Even though Alzheimer’s research is at the forefront of biomedical study, the brain and mind are complex, and treating Alzheimer’s has taken time and currently the treatments provided only temporarily improve symptoms and change progression speeds but there is no inherent cure yet.

Current FDA-approved drugs include:

  • Drugs that help change the progression of the disease: Aducanumab (Aduhelm™), Lecanemab (Leqembi™)
  • Drugs that help treat cognitive behavior: Cholinesterase inhibitors (Aricept®, Exelon®, Razadyne®), Glutamate regulators (Namenda®), Cholinesterase inhibitor + glutamate regulator (Namzeric®)
  • Drugs that help treat non-cognitive behavior: Orexin receptor antagonist (Belsomra®)

There are also alternative treatments for individuals who prefer not to take traditional medication. While there is some research done about these alternatives, they are not FDA-approved and their effectiveness, safety, and purity are unknown.

Alternative treatments can include:

  • Aromatherapy
  • Medical cannabis and CBD
  • Light therapy
  • “Medical Foods”: Caprylic Acid, Coconut Oil, Tramiprosate

While not entirely preventable, research has connected certain lifestyle choices that can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. The CDC has released a few lifestyle changes that can help aid with the prevention of Alzheimer’s.

These suggested changes include:

  • Managing and preventing high blood pressure
  • Managing blood sugar
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and weight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoiding excessive drinking and recreational drug use
  • Preventing and correcting hearing loss
  • Cognitive training: Structured activities that are specifically designed to enhance memory, reasoning, and processing speed
  • Getting regular health evaluations
  • Staying socially active: Volunteering in your local community, Taking part in group sports, Trying new activities or hobbies, Creating time to maintain healthy relationships
  • Staying mentally active: Reading, Learning a new language, Playing musical instruments
  • Try to prevent head trauma: Wearing a seatbelt, Using helmets when riding motorcycles, bikes, playing sports, doing construction, etc., Fall-proofing your home
Group of people exercising outdoors in a field

As of January 1, 2023, there were 187 trials that were assessing 141 new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease all within different phases of the clinical trial process. These trials are testing more treatments that can help with symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Phase 3 has 36 agents and 55 trials, Phase 2 has 87 agents and 99 trials, and Phase 1 has 31 agents and 33 trials.

As research progresses, we are currently seeing an increased focus on several different strategies to help fight Alzheimer’s. The first strategy targets clumps of protein beta-amyloid aka the plaque which is a sign of Alzheimer’s disease. This strategy includes recruiting the immune system, preventing destruction, and providing production blockers. Other strategies focus on:

  • Tau untangling – tau is a protein that is found in the brain and when Alzheimer’s is present, they twist into tiny fibers called tangles.
  • Reducing inflammation – Alzheimer’s commonly causes chronic, low-level brain cell inflammation leading researchers to study ways to treat/prevent this protecting the brain from harmful proteins.
  • Insulin resistance – though no findings have been announced, researchers have been looking into how insulin changes the brain in relation to Alzheimer’s.
  • The heart-head connection – evidence points to brain health being linked to heart and blood vessel health, developing dementia can possibly increase the result of conditions that damage the heart or arteries.

Sometimes the fight against Alzheimer’s can feel endless but with dedicated research and studies, we are seeing progression in a variety of areas to at least help manage this disease. Individuals who educate themselves, understand their risks, and make the suggested lifestyle changes can find themselves less likely to develop this life-altering disease.

Share this:

The Beat Goes On: Prioritizing Heart Health

Illustration of transparent chest revealing human heart

“If the home is a body, the table is the heart, the beating center, the sustainer of life and health.” – Shauna Niequist

Beating 2.5 billion times over the average lifetime, the heart is a vital organ with a 24/7 job, pumping blood and providing oxygen and nutrients to your body that are needed to function. When the heart does not receive the care it needs or begins to improperly function, an individual can begin to develop serious problems.

Did you know?

Info/Statistics gathered from the CDC

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death across all racial and gender groups in the United States.
  • In the United States, an individual has a heart attack every 40 seconds.
  • Every year, about 805,000 people in the United States have a heart attack. Of these people, 605,000 are a first heart attack, 200,000 happen to people who have already had a heart attack, About 1 in 5 heart attacks are silent—the damage is done, but the person is not aware of it
  • One person dies every 33 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease.
  • Coronary artery disease, also known as coronary heart disease, is the most common type of heart disease.

Now, heart problems are not just limited to heart attacks, there are a variety of factors that can cause heart disease in different areas of your heart. People can experience heart disease caused by:

  1. Blood vessels aka coronary artery disease in which plaque builds up in the heart arteries and is commonly associated with symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper belly area, or back, and pain, numbness, or coldness of legs or arms.
  2. Irregular heartbeats aka heart arrhythmias are when your heart beats too quickly, slowly, or irregularly and is commonly associated with symptoms such as chest pain, dizziness, fainting, fluttering in the chest, lightheadedness, racing heartbeat, or slow heartbeat.
  3. Congenital heart defects which are usually noticed after birth in children include symptoms like pale gray or blue skin or lips, swelling in legs, belly, or eye area, or shortness of breath during feedings. Less serious congenital heart defects diagnosed later in childhood or adulthood are commonly associated with symptoms such as easily running out of breath during activity, easily tiring during activity, and swelling of hands, ankles, or feet.
  4. Diseased heart muscle aka cardiomyopathy does not have noticeable symptoms at first but when progressing you may start experiencing dizziness, fatigue, feeling short of breath during activities, rest, or at night when trying to sleep, irregular heartbeats that are rapid and swollen legs, ankles or feet.
  5. Heart valve problems aka valvular heart disease which is when a heart valve has narrowed, leaked, or closed improperly. Depending on the valve, symptoms can include chest pain, fainting, fatigue, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, and swollen feet or ankles. Endocarditis is an infection instead of damage to the valves and this can include symptoms such as dry, persistent cough, fever, heartbeat changes, shortness of breath, skin rashes, swelling of legs or belly area, and overall weakness.

The Attention Your Heart Deserves

Heart disease and poor heart health are incredibly serious and one of the most common causes of death in the United States consistently, but in the same breath heart health can be addressed, monitored, and controlled by making smarter lifestyle choices.

Woman in gym holding a wooden red heart in her hands


Poor diet and water intake are significant factors of poor heart health. Substituting sugary drinks with water and cutting out salt, saturated fats, and sugar have been proven to help aid in heart health. Don’t know where to start when it comes to diet change? Here are some great options to start with:

  • Black Beans
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Olive Oil
  • Walnuts or Almonds
  • Flaxseed
  • Low-fat Yogurt
  • Cherries or Blueberries
  • Dark Leafy Greens


Smoking is not good for your health in general but when it comes to your heart the chemicals in cigarette smoke cause the cells and blood vessels to become swollen and inflamed. It can also lead to cardiovascular conditions such as:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Coronary Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)
  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

It can be hard to quit smoking but the damage is repaired quickly and within the first year, their heart attack risk significantly decreases.


The benefits of exercise have been instilled in essentially everyone from an early age. Getting regular exercise not only helps improve your overall health but helps improve your heart health by effectively:

  • Lessening risk of diabetes
  • Reducing inflammation throughout the body
  • Improving the muscles’ ability to pull oxygen out of the blood, reducing the need for the heart to pump extra blood
  • Reducing stress hormones
  • Working as a beta blocker to slow heart rate and lower blood pressure
  • Increasing good cholesterol and controls triglycerides


While stress is common among most people, constant stress can cause serious harm to your heart. Whenever an individual is stressed, their body releases a hormone called cortisol which is in response to stress, flooding of these levels can cause an increase in blood cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure. Common indicators of stress are decreased energy, trouble sleeping, anxiety, depression, a sense of dread, and irritability.

Some usual ways to deal with stress are:

  • Regular exercise
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Connecting with loved ones
  • Meditation/Deep breathing
  • Maintaining a healthy life balance

It is advised by medical professionals to call 911, your doctor or seek emergency care services if you or someone you know experiences sudden uncomfortable pressure, pain that spreads to shoulders, neck jaw, or back, unexplained anxiety or chest discomfort accomplished by light-headedness, fainting, sweating, nausea, or shortness of breath.

Share this:

The Connection Between Whole Body Donation and Cancer Research

Cancer cell attached to a DNA strand

Whole body donation will always have a connection to the growth of medical education and especially medical research when it comes to discovering the causes and treatments of infectious diseases and cancer.

With tissue gathered from donations, researchers can learn how cancer grows and spreads, how certain drugs work against cancer in different groups of people and discover new ways to prevent and treat cancer.

Here are only some of the many milestones in cancer research with the help of data discovered through donations:

  • Rudolph Virchow identified white blood cells (leukocytes) in cancerous tissue, making the first connection between inflammation and cancer.
  • The TP53 gene, the most commonly mutated gene in human cancer, is discovered in 1979.
  • In 1984, Mark Davis and Tak Mak isolated gene coding for part of the T cell receptor, a key to the immune system’s functions.
  • Through analysis of tissue, scientists were able to identify that breast cancer tumors have multiple estrogen receptors that selectively receive and bind in their cells, confirming the theory the body’s own estrogen was fueling the growth.
  • In 2010, the FDA approved sipuleucel-T, the first human cancer treatment vaccine to be approved to treat prostate cancer.
  • After three decades, the first new treatment for bladder cancer was introduced in 2016.
  • In 2017, in a landmark trial, the first gene therapy for cancer was introduced using the chimeric antigen receptor-modified T cell (CAR-T) therapy.
Two researchers working in a lab

While cancer certainly is not picky, certain people are at higher risk of certain types of cancer based on race, ethnicity, age, and gender and these factors influence how cancer affects individuals differently and how certain treatments work. This is why a variety of different samples is necessary for thorough cancer research. Since humans inherently are so unique, donations are the gateway to precision medicine helping medical professionals know to give the right dose of the right drug to the right person.

With access to a variety of samples, cancer research can thrive in all aspects. The study of tissue allows us to learn more about how cancer cells work. The knowledge of how cells work tied to the outcomes of treatment for people who donate their tissue will provide valuable information for future prevention.

This also leads to discovering the actual causes of cancer linking genetic factors and environmental factors such as diet, culture, toxins, and lifestyle choices. This in turn leads to better treatment of cancer, learning who is susceptible, why it spreads, the initial cause, what drugs are effective in treating, and possibly how to prevent it altogether.

Doctor wearing a pink ribbon sitting across from a patient at her desk holding the patient's hand

With whole body donation accepting almost everyone as donors, these programs are able to give cancer research grounds the cadavers and samples they need to continuously make breakthroughs in the treatment and prevention of cancer. If you would like more information about whole-body donation and how you can aid in the progression of cancer research, check out some FAQs here or contact us today.

Share this:

The Development of Clinical Trials

People standing in line for a vaccination

In modern medicine, clinical trials are the gold standard of clinical research. Clinical trials are well-controlled, function under a strict regulatory environment, and are a type of research study that is performed on people to evaluate a medical, surgical, or behavioral intervention. This intervention could include drugs, cells, other biological products, surgical procedures, radiological procedures, medical devices, behavioral treatments, and preventive care. People of all ages can take part in clinical trials, and they are a primary way for researchers to find out if new treatments, drugs, or medical devices are safe and effective. They also can be used to test ways to find diseases earlier while others find ways to prevent health problems altogether.

There are four phases of clinical trials:

Phase I

This phase typically tests a new drug or treatment on a small group of people (20-80) to evaluate safe dosage ranges and identify side effects

Phase II

This phase introduces a larger group of people (100-300) to test for effectiveness and monitor for any adverse effects. This stage can last several years.

Phase III

This phase is used to gather more information about safety and effectiveness by studying larger populations (up to 3,000 people) in different regions using different dosages. This is the step before approval with positive test results. This stage can also last several years.

Phase IV

This phase is after FDA approval when a device or drug’s effectiveness and safety are monitored in wide, diverse populations over a longer time frame.

Typically, a clinical trial will look something like the following:

  1. Research staff explain the trial and gather personal information.
  2. You sign a consent form.
  3. You are screened to make sure you qualify.
  4. If you accepted, you schedule a first visit or baseline visit where research conducts cognitive or physical tests.
  5. You are randomly assigned to a treatment or control group.
  6. You follow the trial procedures and report any issues or concerns to researchers.
  7. Some trials require you to visit the research site at regularly scheduled times for new cognitive or physical evaluations or discussions with staff. This is also when the research team will collect information about the effect of the intervention, your safety, and your well-being.
  8. You continue to see your regular physician for the usual healthcare.

The Beginning of Clinical Trials

The definition of a clinical trial according to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors is “any research project that prospectively assigns human subjects to intervention and comparison groups to study the cause-and-effect relationship between a medical intervention and a health outcome.” With this definition in mind, some versions of controlled clinical trials have existed for thousands of years with the first recorded manifestations as a variety of attempts to compare interventions before later incorporating randomization, blinding, and placebos.

The First Documented Trial

The first documented evidence of an actual clinical trial that fit this definition occurred in 500 BC and was outlined in the book of Daniel from the Old Testament. This trial was a nutritional experiment where Daniel and his three brothers were assigned to a diet of only vegetables and water and were compared with men who followed the king’s diet of meat and wine. Daniel and his brothers were documented as the healthier group based on their diet. The accuracy of the trial and account has not been confirmed but this has been the basis of a clinical trial that was clearly demonstrated and documented.

The First Formal Trial

The first formal clinical trial was documented in 1025 AD by Persian physician and philosopher Avicenna who established groundbreaking rules for testing drugs and remedies. While these rules may have changed and adapted, this is still considered one of the first real descriptions of formal clinical trials.

James Lind

In 1747, Naval surgeon James Lind famously conducted the first controlled clinical trial. This trial was conducted to find a remedy for a group of sailors who were suffering from scurvy. In this trial, he divided the 12 sick sailors into six pairs and gave them each a different dietary supplement: cider, vinegar, seawater, sulfuric acid, oranges, and lemons. His documented results revealed that the sailors who received oranges and lemons were able to recover, proving that citrus is a critical part of a sailor’s diet.

Introducing Placebos

By the 1800s, the concept of placebos was first mentioned and defined in Hooper’s Medical Dictionary of 1811 as “any medicine adapted more to please than benefit the patient.” Placebos went on to play a critical role in blind clinical trials as a psychological aspect. When used, patients are not told if they received the placebo or experimental drug.

Close up of a doctor's gloved hand holding a placebo

Ethics and Consent

With clinical trials becoming more common by 1964, the World Medical Association drafted an internal manuscript called “Declaration of Helsinki”, due to a few ethical issues in a variety of clinical trials, which promoted voluntary involvement and informed consent in human subject research. While this document is not legally binding, it serves as the basis for laws that govern medical research, and in 1979, in The United States, the National Commission for Protection of Human Subjects in Biomedical and Behavioral Research drafted the Belmont Report which outlined the basic ethical principles: respect for persons, beneficence, and justice and laid out guidelines for conducting research.

The 1970s

The Society of Clinical Trials was conceived in 1978 where they began to develop and discuss the clinical trial design and the analysis of clinical trials in the government. The FDA also assisted during the late 1970s by working with external advisory committees and conducting FDA industry workshops. These workshops support the development of 30 drug-class clinical guidelines.

Public Access

In 2000, with input from the FDA and other organizations, the NIH National Library of Medicine developed, a database of privately and publicly funded clinical trial studies conducted globally. It was made public on February 29, 2000, and won the Innovations in American Government Award in 2004. This site allows the public to find, learn and submit studies and offers a variety of other resources about clinical trials.

In response, in 2005 the Internal Committee of Medical Journal Editors began requiring trial registration as a condition of publication. By 2006, the World Health Organization stated all clinical trials should be registered and in 2007, they launched the International Clinical Trials Registry Platform which provides a search portal for a single point of access to the trials that are registered. Also in 2007, the requirements for submission to were expanded after Congress passed the Food and Drug Administration Amendments of 2007 which required more types of trials to be registered, additional trial registration information, and submission of summary results.

What’s Happening Now?

Clinical trials and research have gone on to discover groundbreaking treatments and have evolved into standardized procedures that adhere to strict regulatory and ethical requirements that are reviewed and updated frequently. As clinical research grows, there are some exciting clinical trials to watch out for this upcoming year including:

  • A diabetes drug for Parkinson’s disease
  • ADC (antibody-drug conjugate) for ovarian cancer
  • CRISPR-Cas9 for muscular dystrophy
  • Safe treatment for sleeping sickness
  • Circulating tumor cells
  • Lecanemab for Alzheimer’s disease
  • Gene editing for sickle-cell disease
Share this:

Osteoporosis: The Silent Disease

Illustration of a bone with osteoporosis

Osteoporosis also known as a “porous bone” is a bone disease that develops when bone mineral density or bone decreases or when the structure or strength of the bone changes.

Healthy bones look like a honeycomb when viewed under a microscope, porous bones have large spaces of holes within the honeycomb meaning your bones become more fragile and tend to fracture or break easily. The bones that are commonly affected are the hip, spine, and wrist.

Osteoporosis is referred to as the “silent” disease because there typically are not any symptoms and most people do not know they have it until they break a bone. While symptoms are not common, some signs that have been documented are back pain, loss of height over a period of time, a stooped posture, and bones that break easier than expected (serious cases including minor falls or simply sneezing).

Osteoporosis is common, check out these stats gathered by AMEGEN:

  • Every 3 seconds, someone in the world breaks a bone because of osteoporosis.
  • The annual number of fractures due to osteoporosis is projected to increase from 1.9 million to 3.2 million from 2018 to 2040 a 68% increase.
  • Osteoporosis-related fractures account for 432,000 hospital admissions and 180,000 nursing home admissions.
  • Osteoporosis is a major cause of fractures in postmenopausal women and older men (50 and above).
  • Women are more likely to have Osteoporosis.
  • Less than 20% of women receive treatment for osteoporosis – even after breaking a bone.
Model of the human spine

Anyone can be at risk for developing osteoporosis, but some common risk factors usually include getting older, having low body weight, having a family history of osteoporosis, being confined to bed due to prolonged periods of time, a significant drop in estrogen or testosterone, taking certain medication, being a white or Asian woman, or already having low bone density.

While there is no cure, there are several ways to help prevent the disease and fractures including eating a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, staying physically active, drinking alcohol in moderation, and avoiding smoking.

Bone loss and density are essentially what osteoporosis is and there are medical conditions and procedures that significantly increase the likelihood of developing osteoporosis. They include:

Autoimmune Disorders

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Lupus
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis

Medical Procedures

  • Gastrectomy
  • Gastrointestinal bypass procedures

Hematologic – Blood Disorders

  • Leukemia and lymphoma
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Sickle cell disease

Blood-Bone Marrow Disorders

  • Thalassemia

Endocrine-Hormonal Disorders

  • Diabetes
  • Hyperparathyroidism
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Thyrotoxicosis
  • Irregular periods
  • Premature menopause
  • Low levels of testosterone and estrogen in men

Digestive and Gastrointestinal Disorders

  • Celiac disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Weight loss surgery


  • Breast cancer
  • Prostate cancer

Neurological – Nervous System Disorders

  • Stroke
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Spinal cord injuries

Mental Illness

  • Depression
  • Eating disorders

Other Diseases and Conditions

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Liver disease, including biliary cirrhosis
  • Organ transplants
  • Polio and post-polio syndrome
  • Scoliosis

Diagnosing osteoporosis will come with a doctor’s visit where you should report any previous fractures, your lifestyle habits, any medical conditions, family health history, and menstrual history. There the doctor will do a physical exam to check for any loss of weight, changes in posture, balance and gait, and muscle strength.

Nurse checking a woman's arm for pain

Lastly, a doctor may order a bone mineral density (BMD) test in either your hip, spine, or wrist to help diagnose osteoporosis, detect low bone density, predict risk for future fractures and monitor the effectiveness of ongoing treatment of osteoporosis. Some medications that help with osteoporosis include:

  • Analgesics: relieve pain but do not reduce inflammation, work by changing how the body responds to pain
  • NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs): reduce inflammation and ease pain
  • Counterirritants: creamers and ointments that contain a menthol or peppermint base that excite and subsequently desensitize nociceptive sensory neurons
  • Corticosteroids: powerful medications that reduce swelling and suppress the immune system
  • Hyaluronic Acid: a naturally occurring fluid in your joints that acts as a lubricant injected at the pain point for pain relief
Share this:

Getting Real About Donation: Can You Be an Organ and Whole Body Donor?

A hand holding a red heart with another hand reaching for it

One common misconception when it comes to donation, in general, is that organ donation and whole-body donations are mutually exclusive. While certainly similar, there are significant differences that everyone should be aware of when choosing which one is right for you and answer one of the most frequent questions “Can you be both an organ donor and donate your body to science?”

So, let’s break down the basics first.

Organ Donation

Organ donation is the process of surgically removing an organ or tissue from the organ donor and placing it into the recipient. Transplantation is necessary when the recipient’s own organs have failed or have been damaged. Commonly organs and tissues that can be transplanted are the:

  • Liver
  • Kidney
  • Pancreas
  • Heart
  • Lung
  • Intestine
  • Corneas
  • Middle ear
  • Skin
  • Bone/Bone Marrow
  • Heart valves
  • Connective Tissue

Organ and tissue donors are in extremely high demand with over 100,000 people waiting for an organ transplant in the US. Are those numbers not shocking enough? Well, every 10 minutes someone is added to the list and on average 22 people die daily waiting for an essential organ. One organ donor holds a lot of power though by donating their organs they can save up to eight lives, by donating their cornea they can restore sight to two people and by donating tissue they can heal up to 75 people.

Illustration of doctor working with a virtual display of internal organs

Becoming an organ donor is a relatively simple process. Individuals wanting to donate can either sign up online or in person at their local DMV. Any individual can become an organ donor there are no restrictions on race, age, or medical conditions at the time of signing up. However, you do need to be at least 18 years old to register yourself, anyone under 18 would need a guardian’s consent to register depending on state laws. It is important to note that there are a few serious conditions that can prevent organ donation. These conditions include:

  • Cancer
  • HIV
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • Sepsis/Pneumonia (at time of death)
  • Hepatitis
  • Dementia, Alzheimer, or Parkinson
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Herpes, West Nile Virus, Rabies, etc.

Also, it is important to remember that most donations happen after donors have passed but live donations are possible as well. After the donor passes, families do not have any fees to pay for organ retrieval but are still responsible for funeral and burial costs.

Whole Body Donation

Whole body donation is a non-transplant anatomical donation of a whole body after death. Unlike organ donation, whole-body donors donate their bodies to science, that are used mostly for furthering medical education, research, gross anatomy, and surgical anatomy. Other ways whole body donation helps education and research is having a part in some major medical advancements including:

  • Alzheimer’s Research
  • Cancer Research
  • Heart Disease
  • Orthopedics
  • Spinal Injuries
  • Reproductive Advancements
  • Respiratory Disease

Currently, there are around 200,000 people yearly who donate their bodies to science. Donor bodies are then transferred to either research centers or medical universities to aid in studying diseases, developing new medical procedures, testing new medical techniques and equipment, training surgeons, and giving hands-on education to the next generation of healthcare professionals.

Four doctors in an operating performing surgery

Now with whole-body donation, the requirements are not as strict compared to transplant donation. Most individuals can be whole-body donors but there are some restrictions like the BMI of an individual and communicable diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C that can disqualify someone. You can figure out if you are eligible by applying to your local whole-body donation program in your state.

Whole body donation is also becoming increasingly popular not just for the medical education and research benefits but for the fact that it is a no-cost end-of-life option. With the cost of the average funeral ranging from $7,000 – $12,000, funerals are an extreme financial and emotional stress on family members. Individuals who choose this route can offer their families some relief because these programs typically provide:

  • Transportation from the location of passing to the facility.
  • Cremation at no cost.
  • Burial at Sea option or a No Return Option (depending on your program.)
  • Return of cremated remains.

So, is it possible to be both?

The short answer to this question is yes but it can depend on the program you choose and state restrictions, some programs are willing to accept organ donors, but others require them. Talk to your whole-body donation program before deciding to see what your options are.

Organ donation will take place first due to its life-saving nature and short time window for transplantation and then your body will be donated to science. If you are able to register for both, be sure to pre-register (Removed “in your lifetime”) and make your wishes known for what happens after death to be sure they are honored by both programs and loved ones.

If you are ready to donate your body to science, register with us at Research For Life. You can pre-register and receive our registration packet online which contains a welcome letter, donor prequalification form, donation authorization form, cremation authorization form, and donor registration forms. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us!

Share this:

Celebrating Iconic Women in Science

Female lab assistant working in a lab

There have been many women who are leaders in ground-breaking scientific research across the globe and have had a significant role in humanity’s scientific advancement. Even though they are so significant in the scientific community, women only represent about 33.3% of scientific researchers globally. Despite their smaller numbers, history is full of women who made historical contributions to science.

Today, we are going to take a moment to look at some of the powerhouses in the scientific community and highlight their amazing achievements.

Marie-Anne Paulze Lavoisier
(January 20, 1758 – February 10, 1836)

Regarded as the mother of modern chemistry, she got her start as the wife of a chemist and nobleman and served as his assistant, and contributed to his work. She was fluent in Latin, English, and French and helped translate several scientific works. Her translations led to the discovery of oxygen gas and were instrumental in the standardization of the scientific method.

Sophia Louisa Jex-Blake
(January 21, 1840 – January 7, 1912)

An English physician, teacher, and feminist who helped lead the campaign to secure women’s access to a college education as a part of the “Edinburgh Seven”. She began studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh in 1869 and devoted her life to the advancement of women’s rights in the field of medicine. After a riot at Surgeon’s Hall in 1870, several petitions were sent to the medical institutions and the government which led to the Medical Act of 1876, which allowed medical institutions in Britain to license qualified applications regardless of gender.

Marie Curie
(November 7, 1867 – July 4, 1934)

A Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted critical research on radioactivity and discovered Radium and Polonium. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the first woman and only person to receive it twice in two scientific fields: physics and chemistry. She also headed the Curie Institution which is a leading medical research in France that is focused on cancer research and radiation therapy.

Vintage photo of female researcher holding flask in the air

The Scientific Powerhouses of 2023

Brilliant women in science have been around since the beginning of science and they are not slowing down anytime soon. just released its list of the top 10 female scientists across the globe who are making notable achievements in the scientific community.

  1. JoAnn E. Manson (Harvard Medical School) – an American physician and professor who is known for her pioneering research, public leadership, and for advocacy in the fields of epidemiology and women’s health.
  2. Virginia M.-Y. Lee (University of Pennsylvania) – a Chinese-born American biochemist and neuroscientist who specializes in progressing the research of Alzheimer’s disease.
  3. Aviv Regev (Broad Institute) – a computational biologist and systems biologist and Executive Vice President and Head of Genentech Research and Early Development in Genentech/Roche. In addition, she is a key member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and a professor at the Department of Biology of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  4. Tamara B. Harris (National Institutes of Health) – a key researcher in the role of the Interdisciplinary Studies of Aging Section is to integrate molecular and genetic epidemiology with interdisciplinary studies of functional outcomes, disease endpoints, and mortality in older persons.
  5. Unnur Thorsteinsdottir (deCODE Genetics Iceland) – currently dean, School of Health Sciences, University of Iceland and is best known for her fields of study of genes, internal medicine, and genetics.
  6. Brenda W.J.H. Penninx (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) – a professor at the department of psychiatry and her current research examines the etiology, treatment, and consequences of depressive and anxiety disorders.
  7. Terrie E. Moffitt (Duke University) – an American clinical psychologist who is best known for her research on the development of antisocial behavior and also for her collaboration in research on gene-environment interactions in mental disorders.
  8. Gail Hanson (University of California Riverside) – an American experimental particle physicist who participated in the discovery of the J/psi meson and tau lepton. Her work led to the first evidence of jet production in electron-positron annihilation.
  9. Julie E. Buring (Brigham and Women’s Hospital) – currently her research is in the epidemiology of chronic diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease and cancer, and especially among women.
  10. Nora D. Volkow (National Institute on Drug Abuse) – a Mexican-American psychiatrist who is currently the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.
Share this:

Exploring Medical Research

Gloved hand focusing a microscope on a slide

“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” – Zora Neale Hurston

Whole body donation plays a huge role in medical research and education. Cadavers offer a type of hands-on experience that cannot be recreated through technology and are used by medical students, physicians, researchers, and scientists to study things such as anatomy, identify disease sites, or determine causes of death. Typically, medical research can be broken up into three main categories.

  1. Basic Research
  2. Clinical Research
  3. Epidemiological Research

In medical research, there are two classified types – primary and secondary research. Secondary research is a summary of available studies in the form of reviews and analysis. Primary research is where the actual studies happen. Basic, Clinical, and Epidemiological research are classified as three types of primary research.

Chart showing types of primary and secondary research

The flow chart above provides a basic overview of what exactly happens in each category of medical research. Now that we have a quick overview, we can break down each category further.

Basic Research

Basic research is technically fundamental research or the study of life processes that are universal in their application to scientific knowledge. David Frank, MD, Associate of Medicine, Medical Oncology at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute quoted basic research as:

“If you think of it in terms of construction, you can’t put up a beautiful, elegant house without first putting in a foundation. In science, if you don’t first understand the basic research, then you can’t move on to advanced applications.”

Basic medical research includes animal experiments, cell studies, biochemical, genetic, physiological investigations, and studies on the properties of drugs and materials in fields such as biology and chemistry. These studies are the study of the core building blocks of life including DNA, cells, proteins, and molecules to help answer the questions about their structures and how they work.

Typically, in these experiments there is at least one independent variable that is varied, and those effects are what are investigated. The variable could be the population, number of groups, case numbers, treatments, or dosages. Also in these experiments, the confounding factors should be controlled or reduced, specific hypotheses are investigated, and causal statements are made.

Basic research will also include the development and improvement of analytics procedures. These procedures can include but are not limited to:
Analytical determination of

  • Enzymes, markers, or genes

Imaging procedures

  • Computed tomography
  • Magnetic resonance imaging

Gene Sequencing

Development of Biometric procedures

  • Statistical test procedures
  • Modeling and statistical evaluation strategies

Clinical Research

Clinical research is a step above basic and addresses important questions of normal function and disease by using human subjects. This type of research is geared more toward exploring whether new treatments, medications and diagnostics techniques are not only safe but effective as well.

Clinical trials are extremely rigorous and controlled so that they can accurately monitor progress and evaluate the treatment’s efficacy and benefits. Clinical research can be broken down into several distinct categories of study. Some of those include but are not limited to:

Treatment Research that involves the intervention of medicine, psychotherapy, new devices and innovative approaches to surgery or therapy.

Prevention Research which aims to better the prevention of disorders from developing or returning using medicine, vitamins, vaccines, minerals, or lifestyle changes.

Researchers looking at information on computer monitors

Diagnostic Research is the practice of looking for better ways to identify a particular disorder or condition.

Screening Research aims to find the best ways to detect certain disorders or health conditions.

Quality of Life Research finds new ways to improve comfort and quality of life for patients with chronic illnesses.

Genetic Studies are implemented to improve the prediction of disorders by identifying and understanding how genes and illnesses may be related.

Research includes discovering why a person’s genes make them more or less likely to develop certain disorders.

While clinical research is commonly associated with new medications or devices, some studies include healthy volunteers that are needed to compare to results of patients with illnesses. These types of studies include:

  • Long-term studies that involve psychological tests or brain scans
  • Genetic studies that involve blood tests
  • Studies of family history

Epidemiological Research

This specific branch of medical research investigated all the factors that determine the presence or absence of disease and disorders to help understand how many people have a disease or disorder, if those numbers are fluctuating and how it affects our society and economy.

With epidemiology, the patient is the community and individuals that are viewed collectively. Epidemiology is the study (scientific, systematic and data drive) of the distribution (pattern and frequency) and determinants (causes and risk factors) of health related states and events in specific populations (neighborhoods, schools, states, cities, global).

When it comes to epidemiological studies there are some key terms you need to know:

1. Incidence: number of new cases in the population over a set period

2. Prevalence: number of exciting cases

3. Cost of illness: expenditures of medical care

4. Burden of disease: total significance of disease for society

  • Measured in years of life lost to ill health
  • Difference in total life expectancy and disability-adjusted life expectancy (DALY)

5. DALY – summary measure of health of a population. One DALY is one lost year of health and is used to estimate the gap between the current health of the world and an ideal situation.

There are several health problems or events that Epidemiological researchers are studying. These include environmental exposures like lead, heavy metals, air pollutants or asthma triggers. Infectious diseases such as foodborne illness, influenza, pneumonia. Injuries including increased homicides in a specific community or a national surge of DV. Non-infectious diseases that can include localized or widespread rise of a particular type of cancer or an increase in a major birth defect.

Share this:

The Correlation Between Type 3 Diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease

Wooden puzzle shaped like the human brain with puzzle pieces beside it

Diabetes mellitus (diabetes for short) is a health condition where your body has difficulty converting sugar to energy. Diabetes has been documented since 1552 B.C, when Hesy-Ra, an Egyptian physician, documented the symptom of frequent urination as a symptom of a mystery disease that also caused emaciation.

As of today, there are more than 37 million Americans that have diabetes which is about one in ten people with more than 90% having type 2. Diabetes is one of the most prominent diseases with 1.4 million more people being diagnosed each year and being the cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, strokes, and limb amputation. Diabetes also has several different symptoms including:

  • Frequent urination especially at night
  • Extreme thirst
  • Weight loss
  • Increased hunger
  • Blurry vision
  • Numb or tingling hands or feet
  • Increased exhaustion
  • Dry skin
  • Sores that heal slowly
  • More infections than usual
  • Irritability or other mood changes
  • Presence of ketones in urine

When it comes to diagnosing diabetes, there are three distinct kinds that all have the commonality of high blood sugar levels. The three recognized types of diabetes are:

Type 1 Diabetes (T1DM) which is when your body’s endocrine part of pancreas does not produce enough hormone insulin and your blood sugar levels become too high

Type 2 Diabetes (T2DM) is when your body develops resistance to insulin and your blood sugar level increases as a result.

Gestational Diabetes (GDM) specifically occurs during pregnancy and blood sugar level is too high during pregnancy.

Blood drops holding signs that indicate blood sugar levels

“Even slight elevations in blood sugar have been shown to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.” – David Perlmutter

To further support the evidence that diabetes is one of the prominent, devastating but common diseases of our time, check out these gathered statistics below:

  • It is estimated that by 2045 the global diabetes prevalence will surpass 12%. (Statista, 2021)
  • It is expected that the number of people with the condition will increase by 134% in Africa, 68% in South-East Asia, and 13% in Europe. (Statista, 2021)
  • 283,000 Americans under the age of 20 are estimated to have the disease. (ADA, 2022)
  • 29.2% or 15.9 million American seniors aged 65+ have diabetes. (ADA, 2022)
  • 23% or 8.5 million American adults with diabetes are undiagnosed. (CDC, 2020)
  • One person dies every five seconds due to this condition. This accumulates to 6.7 million deaths. (IDF Diabetes Atlas, 2021)
  • Diabetes type 1 statistics show that around 10% of people that have the disease have type 1. (IDF Diabetes Atlas, 2021)
  • 90 to 95% or around 33 to 35 million diabetic Americans have type 2. (CDC, 2020)
  • The number of people in the U.S. is expected to rise to 38 million by 2025. (Statista, 2021)
  • The U.S.’s average cost per patient is the highest at $12,000. (Statista, 2021)

The Discovery of Type 3

While not recognized as a health condition officially and considered a research term over medical, type 3 diabetes is a condition that is linked with Alzheimer’s disease, a form of vascular dementia the most common form of dementia in the United States.

Research states that type 3 diabetes occurs when the neurons in the brain become unable to respond to insulin, which is essential for basic tasks such as memory and learning. Researchers believe that this insulin deficiency is directly connected to the cognitive decline of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is a prevalent, incurable disease that affects over 55 million people with 10 million new cases every year. Alzheimer’s disease also carries a hefty price tag with a global cost of $1.3 trillion and is expected to rise to $2.8 trillion by 2030. Beyond that check out these eye-opening statistics provided by just to see how prevalent Alzheimer’s is:

  • 1 in 3 seniors die of Alzheimer’s or another dementia. It kills more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
  • Deaths from Alzheimer’s have more than doubled between 2000 and 2019
  • People living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias have twice as many hospital stays per year as other older people.
  • A person is diagnosed with dementia once every 64 seconds
  • After the age of 65, 1 in 10 adults has dementia
  • One in every eleven men will develop dementia
  • One in every six women will develop dementia

While research is still happening with type 3 diabetes, there are some hypotheses that suggest that insulin-degrading enzymes may shift type 2 diabetes to type 3 by altering the metabolic pathways which has the possibility to result in oxidative stress and beta-amyloid in the brain – both prominent characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.

Illustration of elderly people not being able to solve problems

Doctors do not currently use type 3 diabetes as a diagnostic term, they can diagnose Alzheimer’s disease using a combination of physical and mental tests, neurological exams, and brain imaging. They also have had the ability to narrow down risks and symptoms to try and help individuals and their loved one’s spot type 3 diabetes and ALzherimer’s disease as early as possible.


  • A diet high in calories, sugar, and fat but low in fiber
  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Stress
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Genetics
  • Family history
  • Birth weight


  • Memory loss that begins to affect daily life and social interactions
  • Increased difficulty completing familiar tasks
  • Misplacing things more often
  • Decreases ability to make judgements
  • Sudden changes in personality

Treatment is possible but there are separate treatment options for people who have pre-type 2 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimers. These treatments include making lifestyle changes, beginning exercising, a diet low in fat and rich in fruits and vegetables and quitting smoking.

If you have both type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s, treatment for the diabetes is important in slowing down the progression of dementia. Patients can also use anti-diabestes drugs such as metformin and insulin to reduce the risk of developing diabetes-induced brain damage.

In addition, acetylcholinesterase inhibitors like donepezil, galantamine or rivastigmine can be prescribed to help your body’s cells communicate with one another while memantine and NMDA-receptor antagonist can help reduce symptoms and low the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Another option is psychotropic drugs such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications to help with dementia symptoms like depression and mood swings, some people require a light dose of antipsychotic therapy as well.

Hope For The Future

While not an official medical diagnosis yet, the link between Type 3 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease is being closely researched and becoming more legitimate as more information is uncovered. With no cure for diabetes or Alzheimer’s, discovering this connection is a huge milestone as we advance into an age of medicine that hopefully can cure one or both these damaging diseases one day in the future. wings, some people require a light dose of antipsychotic therapy as well.

Share this:

The Basics of Wound Care and The Role Cadavers Play

Close up of surgeon cutting gauze

The Growth of Wound Care

Wound care has been around since the beginning of humankind and the basic principles of wound care have been around since as early as 2000 B.C. The oldest medical manuscript, a clay tablet from 2200 B.C, is the first documented writing that has the three basic healing principles:

  1. Washing the wound
  2. Making the plasters
  3. Bandaging

Including the findings within this clay tablet, there are plenty of other approaches that helped shape the wound care we know and practice today that include:

  • Ancient Egyptians applied a paste of honey, grease, and lint into an open wound to remove the skin and pus and encourage wound healing.
  • Ancient Greeks who focused more on the cleanliness and washing of wounds with clean water, vinegar, and wine.
  • Ancient Romans who were the first describe the four cardinal signs of inflammation which “rubor, tumor, calor, et dolar” which translates to “redness, swelling, heat and pain”.
  • In the middle ages, the customary practices were to allow a wound to rot a bit and most wound care was carried about by nuns.
  • Dominique Jean Larrey, was the first physician to document the necessity for early amputation of any limb injury where the limb would not be saved. He noted that early amputation would create a clean, viable wound.
  • In 1854, Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, believed that cleanliness, fresh air, quietness, good nutrition and effectively performed treatments would improve the care of not only the wound but the patient as well.
  • In the 1800s, textbooks that focused on wound care began to address the importance of skin cleaning and removal of foreign matter.
  • In 1861, Louis Pasteur discovered Germ Theory. This introduced simple practices such as hand washing, sterilizing surgical equipment, and wound dressings which lead to significantly faster healing times.
  • Joseph Lister is credited with the development of the first wet-to-dry dressing that used a clean cotton batting soaked in carbolic acid to pack wounds.
  • In 1890, the founder of Johnson & Johnson, began using the Lister Antiseptic System, the treatment of compound fractures with carbolic acid, to develop gauze and wound dressing that are sterilized with dry heat, steam, and pressure.
  • During 1909 to 1918, it was common practice to apply dry gauze packed with salt to the wound bed by the end of WW1, the Carrel-Dakin method that consists of continuously infusing hypochlorite solution directly into gauze to pack the wound became standard.
  • Throughout the 19th century, metallic antiseptics were developed. These along with the introduction of antibiotics helped decrease mortality rates while also controlling infections. Silver ceramic powder was introduced in 1928, silver sulfadiazine was introduced in 1958 and they were both used to treat Pseudomonas infection in burn victims. In 1974, it was discovered that the application of zinc to wounds helped promote healing in zinc-deficient individuals which in turn led to the development of Unna’s zinc sulfate paste, a paste still used in treatment today.
  • Wound nursing was officially established as a specialty in 1958 but the certification was NOT available until 1980.
  • The moist wound healing technique was backed by George Winter, Cameron Hinman and Horward Maibach in the 1960’s which focused on creating and maintaining a moist wound healing environment vs a dry one.

What Does Proper Wound Care Look Like Today?

There are different things to do and look out for with different types of wounds. In this section, we are going to cover cuts/scrapes, surgical wounds, and minor burns.

For cuts and scrapes, you will need to clean and soothe the injury with cool water and remove any foreign object with sterilized tweezers. Avoid irritating soap, iodine, alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide. Next would be an antibiotic cream or ointment that can help reduce infection and keep the wound moist. Apply a thin layer on the wound. Then, cover with a band-aid if your injury will be rubbed by clothing to avoid risk of reopening or infection, be sure to change the bandage daily.

Finally, notice signs of healing. Your body begins healing quickly with white blood cells attacking the infection-causing bacteria and soon you will form protective scabs that you want to avoid touching or removing.

Mother treating wound on child's elbow

For minor burns, cool the area immediately with a cold cloth or cool running water. This will stop the skin from holding the heat and continuing to burn. Next, wash the burn with non-irritating soap and water. Then, dress the burn lightly and leave any blisters that form alone because they help protect the skin.

For surgical wounds, protect your incision with a bandage for a few days and then change the dressing. Be sure to follow the care your doctor left for you for taking care of stitches or staples. It is important to keep the area dry and report any increase in redness or bleeding immediately to your doctor.

Look out for infections that can show signs such as swelling, green/yellow fluid, increased warmth, and tenderness in the incision. Other signs include swollen lymph nodes, body aches, chills, or fever. Contact a doctor if you have any of the previously stated symptoms and also if you have a wound that won’t stop bleeding after 10 minutes of pressure, is deeper than half-inch, near the eye, is ragged, caused by something rusty, has dirt or gravel in it, is very painful or is caused by an animal or human bite.

A New Approach To Treating Chronic Skin Wounds

Chronic skin wounds are a growing threat to public health and according to the National Institutes of Health, treating these wounds costs the United States $25 billion annually and affects 1 in 100 people. These wounds can come from aging and diseases such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease that can lead to ulcers and skin wounds.

Pair of hands with wounds on them

One common way wounds are treated is using cadaver skin. Treating wounds with cadaver skin is not a new concept though, in fact cadavers’ skin was first used in 1881 for covering burn wounds. While this case failed due to graft rejection, it laid down the foundation for this technique by 1953 cadaveric skin was established as common management for burns.

Cadaver skin donated for medical use is typically referred to as allograft, homograft, or cadaver skin. To use cadaver skin, scientists created “dellurized skin” which use antibiotics to first decontaminate the skin and a combination of detergents, enzymes, and other chemicals to remove cells from the skin. This grew into delleuraized body body parts such as windpipes and scientists hope to use it for the heart and other organs.

“Imagine a house with all the furniture and people taken out — you’re left with an empty shell that is easier to populate than just building a house from scratch. In the same way, decellularized dermis provides a scaffold that the body can try to populate with its own cells. The good thing about decellularized dermis is that it has a structure and composition that the human body is already used to — the body responds more favorably to what it is used to than what it isn’t.”

– Ardeshir Bayat, a bioengineer and clinician-scientist at the University of Manchester in England

After some research and development, Bayat and his colleagues found that decellularized skin was efficient for not only chronic wounds, but acute wounds as well such as wounds from a burn. In their newest study, they removed 4 disks of skin about 5 millimeters wide from 50 healthy volunteers, for each volunteer, one wound site was left untreated and the next had the removed skin re-inserted, another was treated with an artificial skin substitute and the last was treated with decellularized skin.

The findings of this study concluded that the dellurized skin was the best for triggering growth of new blood vessels and had comparable strength to normal skin. Their next study is planned to be testing decellularized skin on a larger number of volunteers and adding electric stimulation with the hope of accelerating the integration of skin substitutes into the body.

While the use of cadaver skin has had slow progress, its progress is not foreseen to stop anytime. As researchers like Bayat continue to improve on how professionals treat wounds to chronic wounds, decellularized skin will continue to be improved upon and used in treatment. With around 100,000 skin grafts performed annually and 20,000 annual whole body donations, progress can seem slow and steady, but its outcomes can help generations to come.

Share this: