Ai-Ling Lin: Identifying Interventions to Slow Brain Aging and Prevent Dementia
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Ai-Ling Lin: Identifying Interventions to Slow Brain Aging and Prevent Dementia


My name is Ai-Ling Lin. I am the principal investigator in the Ling
Lin Lab, and I am an assistant professor in the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging and the
Department of Pharmacology in Nutritional Sciences in the University of Kentucky. I came from Taiwan. I grew up in a city in Taichung, a city in
the central part of Taiwan, and my parents are missionaries and I have one sister and
one brother. We travel a lot with our parents to visit
people in their homes in hospitals and in the churches. So this helped develop my compassion for mankind
and humanity at a very early age. I decided to pursue science when I was in
junior high. I was inspired by Isaac Newton and Albert
Einstein, because I was so fascinated by how they could use simple equations to describe
how things work and the beauty of the universe. So I was hoping one day I could be like a
physicist or mathematician like them. I was so lucky to be able to be admitted to
the National Yang-Ming University in Taipei, Taiwan where I had my major in radiology co-sciences
and biomedical imaging. And this couldn’t be better for me because
it combines all these areas including physics, mathematics, biochemistry, biology, physiology,
and medicine. So after college, because of the inspiration
of my parents, I decided to be a missionary as well. So I went to Bible training for two years. There I met my husband and we got married. Now we have two boys and shortly after our
wedding, we came to the United States because I went to graduate school in the University
of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio to further pursue radiological sciences and
now this time with an emphasis on neuroimaging. One of the reasons I came to UK is that because
UK has the ability and resources to do translational neuroimaging research. And here, we have very strong clinical trials
going on, especially Alzheimer’s disease center of UK is one of the twenty-seven centers
funded by NIH, so this is very attractive because I don’t want just to do just animal
work. I want to translate all these findings into
human clinical trial and to make a real impact in patients and in healthcare. My long-term goal is that I can find a way
to do personalized medicine for each individual. So what we are trying to do here is build
up a database, even from animal models or clinical trials, we can identify patterns
in each individual. So in the future, we can give them a suggestion
based on their genetic background how to live longer, live healthier, and we can monitor
this changes with neuroimaging and even with cognitive testing. So our goal is that we can identify effective
interventions to slow down brain aging and prevent dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. We’re using rapamycin, which is a FDA-approved
drug that can be shown to extend longevity and also reduce neuropathology in many cases. So that’s one of the treatments we have. The other one is very cool. We use different levels of nutritional intervention
and we want to see how diet can impact our cognition to make us healthier, smarter, and
have better memory. So we are using imaging to identify the treatment
efficacy of these two interventions, and we do behavior tests to see how this impacts
the animals memory and learning ability. I am glad to have strong support from the
family, so in the personal life, my husband gives me strong support and I also can teach
science to my kids. That’s really nice. And professionally, of course for me, I think
of doing research is more like putting all the puzzles together. So you need to find the right piece and put
it in the right place. That’s really challenging and sometimes
asking the right questions and finding the right answers for that question is also very
challenging. This lab, this team, is just like a family
and we care for one another, but at the same time we learn from each other. Each one of us has their own strength and
talent. So we learn from each other, we challenge
each other and in the meantime we also support one another. So in the end of the day, we have a lot of
fun.

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