Yen-Ching Karen Chen, Professor
Lab of Geriatric and Genomic Epidemiology Research
Institute of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine,
College of Public Health, National Taiwan University
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  WHO global plan on dementia was announced on May 29, 2017. One of the plan is listed dementia: a public health priority. Our lab has focused on cognitive function and dementia epidemiologic research from 2007. In addition, we also explore health issues related to the elderly (e.g., osteoporosis) and collaborate with Harvard School of Public Health for the prostate cancer research. Below is the introduction of these research.
  Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common type of dementia and has no curve so far. Therefore, AD prevention at preclinical stage becomes very important. AD is a complex and multifactorial and its onset is attributable to clinical factors, genetic susceptibility, lifestyle and environmental factors. Therefore, we are hoping to integrate these factors to predict AD risk at the early stage of dementia (mild cognitive impairment) in order to facilitate early prevention.
  This is a cohort study (Taiwan Initiative for Geriatric Epidemiological Research, TIGER) which recruited around 600 participants aged 65 and older between 2011 and 2013. This study focused on health related issues in the elderly, e.g., cognitive impairment, dementia, and functional change over time, etc. Since baseline recruitment (2013-2015), two follow-ups have been completed during 2015-2017 and 2015-2017, the 3rd follow-up is undergoing (2017-2019). Various data have been collected in this study, e.g., biospecimen, imaging data, and questionnaires (demographics, lifestyle, environment exposure, history of diseases and medications, etc.). Though the collaboration with physicians with different specialty (geriatrics, neurology, medical imaging, internal medicine, psychiatry and ophthalmology) and multidisciplinary experts (biostatistics, nutrition, environmental health, metabolomics and environmental spatiotemporal analyses, etc.). Hope findings of this study will be helpful to early prevention of dementia.
   Dementia and Aging Research of Taiwan, DART at National Taiwan University (NTU) is a multi-center case-control study in Taipei, Taiwan. A total of 938 participants aged 60 or older (n=292 Alzheimer’s disease (AD), n= 143 small-vessel vascular dementia (VaD), and n=503 healthy controls) were included from 2007 to 2011. This study has genome-wide (using array plates for CHB) and candidate-gene data (including APOE e4 status and 39 SNPs of 12 genes), information of demography, comorbidities, and leisure activities.
   GAAIN (The Global Alzheimer’s Association Interactive Network) is funded by the Alzheimer’s Association, USA. It has developed the first operational online integrated research platform, which links scientists, shared data, and sophisticated analysis tools. Our Dementia and Aging Research of Taiwan (DART) has joint GAAIN in September in 2016. We are looking forward to more collaborations via data sharing. For those who are interested in collaboration or data sharing, please contact Dr. Yen-Ching Karen Chen at
  About 10 million and 34 million of Americans have osteoporosis and low bone mass, respectively. Among them, 80% are women who are at high risk of fracture. Osteoporosis is a common health issue among postmenopausal women and over 50% of this population has increased risk of fracture. World Health Organization reported that osteoporosis has been an important health issue secondary to coronary heart disease. Although osteoporosis is preventable and curable, no clear symptoms could be identified before the occurrence of fracture, which is associated with higher mortality. Family studies found that 30% to 80% of variations of bone mineral density were attributable to genetic factors. However, previous candidate-gene association studies observed inconsistent findings. Therefore, the etiology of osteoporosis remains unclear. Recently, GWASs found that some single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were associated with bone mineral density and osteoporosis. In addition to genetic markers, our lab also look into metabolome, various clinical factors and lifestyle in relation to the risk of low bone mineral density.
  Prostate cancer (PCa) is the most common non-skin cancer and the 2nd cancer cause of death among men in the USA. PCa is the 6th common cancer and its incidence remains elevated in Taiwan (Cancer Registry System, 2011). Since 2003, we have collaborated with Harvard School of Public Health and Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School on the prostate cancer project. Several articles have been published based on the data from Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS) with a recent work on the interactions between TLR4 genetic polymorphisms and the infection of Trichomonas vaginalis. We also have papers for the Prostate Cohort Consortium Project, National Cancer Institute, USA. Recently, we had a PCa international collaborative project that was led by us, this meta-analysis assessed genetic polymorphisms of TLR4 and PCa has been published in 2014, which may help unraveling the etiology of PCa.

Copyright © Yen-Ching Karen Chen, Professor, Institute of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, National Taiwan University