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Dr. Matthew L. Cohen, PhD

Dr. Cohen is a neuropsychologist and Assistant Professor in the University of Delaware’s Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders. His lab conducts research at the interface of neuropsychology and speech-language pathology. In particular, he aims to use modern assessment approaches to inform the person-centered treatment of cognitive and communication disorders caused by Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other neurological conditions.

  1. What is the importance of this research?

In healthcare, it is often the case that “you get what you measure.” Without the right tools to measure quality of life in people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and related disorders, it is difficult for clinicians to systematically consider quality-of-life outcomes. The pilot study funded by the DE-CTR was a mixed-methods investigation to learn from patients, families, and clinicians which aspects of quality of life are important but inadequately quantified, in order to develop new patient-reported outcome measures.

2. Why did you want to conduct this research?

Currently, for AD and related disorders, treatments which improve cognition or delay disease progression only have very small effect sizes. As such, many aspects of clinical practice focus on reducing symptoms while optimizing function and quality of life. I have several family members with neurological conditions, and I appreciate on a personal level the importance of these relatively subjective variables

3. How does this research relate to your other work?

I’m interested in improving early identification and early intervention services for people with Alzheimer’s disease and related conditions. Expanding and improving the toolbox of assessment tools available to clinicians working with this population could help identify cases earlier, match patients to treatments, and assess outcomes that matter to patients.

4. What aspect of the DE-CTR was most helpful to you for this research?

I wrote a NIH R01 application that scored well but was ultimately not funded. The DE-CTR ACCEL program gave me the necessary funding to collect more pilot data in support of my application and to directly respond to the reviewer’s comments. I don’t yet know the result of the resubmission, but the application is much more competitive thanks to the DE-CTR.

5. What advice would you give to a junior researcher?

I would recommend connecting with other junior researchers at your institution. Doing so has helped me feel supported, connected, informed, and inspired to do interesting and collaborative research. In fact, I’ll use this platform to shamelessly plug collaborative research across UD and ChristianaCare. Look for details in an upcoming issue of the Delaware Journal of Public Health, dedicated to Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in Delaware.

If you would like to participate in an upcoming edition of ASK THE RESEARCHER, please email Amanda Scott.