$2.8 million to fund Alzheimer’s study by UM’s Dr. Loewenstein

A University of Miami Doctor of Psychology with a distinguished background in neuropsychology is embarking on a study to distinguish between normal aging and early signs of memory loss, thanks to a $2.3 million federal grant and an additional $500,000 from the State of Florida.

“We’re very excited about the study potential,” said Dr. David Loewenstein, 55, a Miller School of Medicine Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, who leads the research project under primary National Institutes of Health funding.

For many years, the Miller School has been at the forefront of differentiating between normal and abnormal cognitive aging.

Results of the five-year study could lead to early detection of Alzheimer’s disease through changes in thinking that occur in the aged, he believes.

Dr. Loewenstein’s 30-year background in teaching and clinical work has led to the project designed to better understand and predict changes in thinking abilities that occur over time in normal aging and with memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s.

“With the increasingly older population, Alzheimer’s takes a devastating toll on individuals, their families and society as a whole,” he stated.

“If more successful treatments are not developed, the Alzheimer’s Association predicts a large effect on the American economy.

Fortunately, exciting research is emerging in the battle against both Alzheimer’s and related brain disorders.”

From a Miami childhood in Cutler Bay and Kendall, the UM professor began his higher education with a BA in Psychology from the University of South Florida in 1981, followed by an MS in Psychology at Florida State University (1983) and PhD in Clinical Psychology (1986) after completion of a pre-doctoral internship at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, WA.

Beginning his career as a research assistant at the University of Miami at the end of 1986, he became director of Cognitive/ Neuropsychological Laboratory and Psychological Services at Mount Sinai Medical Center on Miami Beach, a post he held through 2012 when he joined the University of Miami faculty to teach psychiatry and behavioral science.

For the past 30 years, Dr. Lowenstein has compiled an outstanding record of academic and research that concentrated in clinical work that has led to his current position as director of neuropsychology at the University of Miami. He has authored or co-authored more than 140 documents relating to Alzheimer’s and cognitive functions of the brain.

A Killian graduate (Class of 1978), Dr. Lowenstein recalls his father’s scientific bent as an avid astronomy buff, member of the Southern Cross Astronomical Society.

“I’d tag along Saturday nights to view stars and planets while he explained their origins,” he said.

Now a resident of Miramar with his wife, Susan, and two daughters, Rachel, 19, and Amy, 14, Dr. Lowenstein looks back to his early life in Kendall where he and his family often visit his parents, Arline and Jack Lowenstein, Cherry Grove residents who both have backgrounds with scientific endeavors.

“We call David our family improvement,” chuckled Jack, once an oceanographer associated with the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science on Virginia Key, later involved in a sonar project study by the University of Miami, University of Michigan and Columbia University.

Mrs. Lowenstein, who holds a PhD in Psychology, formerly directed programming for emotionally disabled and autistic children in Miami-Dade. A daughter, Linda Braega, sister to Dr. David Lowenstein, became a pediatric nurse before relocating with her husband to Italy.

At present, Dr. Lowenstein’s research team is recruiting healthy cognitively normal older adults with mild cognitive concerns, or a family history of Alzheimer’s, seeking 300 volunteers from 63 to 95 years of age.

“Research participants will provide critical information to develop ways of fostering more healthy aging and early identification prevention and early treatment potential,” he said.

For details including compensation for volunteers, call 305-355-9189 or send email to DLoewenstein@med.miami.edu.

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