Announcing the Lina Mae Edwards Young Investigator Research Award

April 24, 2019 (North Carolina) – Dementia Alliance of North Carolina is pleased to announce two winners of the Lina Mae Edwards Young Investigator Research Grants.  The grantees, from Duke University and East Carolina University, will both receive $100,000 over the next two years.  The purpose of Dementia Alliance’s research program is to address important issues ranging across a broad spectrum of concerns in the field of dementia science and caregiver support. The program seeks to discover the basic causes, prevention and cure of these diseases, as well as the most effective approaches to family support and the enrichment of the lives of those who suffer from dementia.

This award was made possible with the support of Guardian Angel Thrift Shops, founded in 1999 and operated in two locations in Central North Carolina by founder, Laura Gaddis, in memory of her mother, Lina Mae

Photo of Lina Mae Edwards and William Levi

Lina Mae Edwards and husband, William Levi

Edwards. Laura Gaddis saw her mother suffer with Alzheimer’s for 12 years. Nearing the end of her mother’s life, she woke one morning with a plan she quickly put on paper. It would be a non-profit thrift store with the sales funding Alzheimer’s research. She opened a small 1,400 sq. ft. store in Fuquay-Varina, NC which quickly grew into a large 26,000 sq. ft. Super Thrift in four years. Thanks to public support, Guardian Angel Thrift Shop has been able to contribute over $2 million for Alzheimer’s Research in our state.

More than 170,000 people in North Carolina are impacted by all forms of dementia and these numbers are expected to increase to 210,000 by the year 2025.  In 2019, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the nation nearly $290 billion and by 2050 this could rise as high as $1.1 trillion.

“With the dramatically increasing number of people living with dementia, we must look at alternative approaches to address this under-recognized public health crisis.  We are extremely grateful for our continued partnership with the Guardian Angel Thrift Shop to fund important research right here in North Carolina.” says Heather Hooper, Executive Director of the Dementia Alliance of North Carolina.

Local researches from Duke University and East Carolina University have been named this year’s Lina Mae Edwards Young Investigators.

Photo of Jessica Ellis Ph.D.

Jessica M. Ellis, PhD from East Carolina University’s project is titled Deciphering the Role of DHA in the Development of Brain Disorders.   “Our research team will investigate how nutrients in fish oil prevent dementia by improving brain energy production. Using our unique research model and state of the art approach, we will fill a fundamental gap in knowledge bridging fish oil use to energy production and cognitive function,” explains Ellis.



Daniel Parker, MD with Duke University’s project, The Effect of Exercise Mode, Amount and Intensity on Plasma Markers of Brain Aging in Healthy Adults will look to determine the impact of different types, amounts, and intensities of exercise training on blood concentrations of proteins that are involved in the development of dementia. This study will help to understand how regular exercise benefits the brain and may identify new targets for drugs that could prevent or treat dementia.

About Dementia Alliance of North Carolina:

Formerly Alzheimer’s NC, Dementia Alliance of North Carolina has served local communities for over 30 years as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. One hundred percent of our funding stays here to improve lives of all North Carolinians impacted by dementia, engaging and empowering them through support, education and research.