Syncope and Falls in the Elderly Laboratory (SAFE Lab)


The Safe Program mission is to determine factors that set the stage for decline in brain function and loss of independence in older adults. We study the mechanisms by which clinical, environmental, and hereditary factors lead to age-related disorders, abnormalities in systemic regulation and functional decline in older adults.

Our main focus is to understand how age and age-related disorders like diabetes, stroke and obesity influence brain structure, blood flow and functional connectivity, and how these changes in the brain lead to cognitive and functional impairments. Our goal is to design conduct clinical trials and implement new strategies to promote successful aging, facilitate independence of older people and prevent functional decline. The main components are: translational clinical research, neurophysiological and locomotor assessments, magnetic resonance imaging and mathematical modeling.

SAFE_LAB_Novak2_350x375Vera Novak, MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Medicine, Director SAFE Program, Adjunct Professor of Mathematics North Carolina State University; Faculty- Center for Dynamical Biomarkers and Translational Medicine, National Central University, Taiwan

Dr. Novak's interests include mechanisms of cerebrovascular regulation, imaging and biotechnologies for prevention and treatment of age-related disorders.

Current Trials: Enrolling

Memory Advancement with Intranasal Insulin (MemAID)

Type 2 diabetes accelerates brain aging, alters brain blood flow and increases risk of dementia. Insulin plays a role in protecting neurons from its deleterious effects. Our previous study showed that intranasal insulin improved memory and learning in participants with type 2 diabetes and healthy controls, without affecting sugar levels in the blood. MemAID is an ongoing randomized control trial that evaluates potential benefits of 40 IU of Novolin® R or placebo (sterile saline) as a nasal spray using a Via Nase device (Kurve Technology,Inc) once daily for 24 weeks, with 24 weeks of the follow-up on cognitional, gait and functional outcomes. We plan to enroll 120 type 2 diabetics and 90 controls, more than 50 years old.

(Compensation up to $1000 for completing the study) (NIH NIDDK- 1R01DK103902-4, NCT04215556). Online pre-screening is available.

Additional Information

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The SAFE Program has established collaborations with top researchers around the world

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The studies were supported by NIH 1R01DK103902-01Al, NIH-NIA 1R01-AG0287601A2, NIH-NIDDK SR21 DK084463, American Diabetes Association, Clinical 1-03-CR-23 and 1-06-CR-25; NIH-National Institutes on Diabetes and Kidney Diseases SR21- DK084463-02; 1R01DK103902-01Al; Novo Nordisk, Inc. Medtronics Inc. to Dr. Vera Novak. The projects described were also supported by Grant Number Ull RR025758- Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center and M0l-RR-01032, from the National Center for Research.