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'BTN LiveBIG' shines spotlight on critical University of Minnesota research

Dr. Karen Ashe’s research into Alzheimer’s disease and Prof. Peter Sorensen’s work on aquatic invasive species are featured; show debuts Friday, March 1 at 9:30 p.m.

February 27, 2013

The next installment of a new Big Ten Network series, “BTN LiveBIG,” will showcase University of Minnesota researchers exploring treatments for critical brain conditions and developing lasting solutions to environmental challenges. The episode will debut Friday, March 1 at 9:30 p.m. CT, after the Denver at Minnesota men’s hockey game.

The half-hour show will profile landmark strides made by Dr. Karen Ashe in her passionate pursuit to understand the cause of Alzheimer’s disease and discover a treatment for this devastating condition. It will also follow Professor Peter Sorensen in his holistic quest to mitigate the effects of aquatic invasive species and restore the natural ecosystem of Minnesota’s lakes and waterways.

Karen Ashe, M.D, Ph.D., professor of neurology and neuroscience; director, N. Bud Grossman Center for Memory Research and Care
Over the next 40 years, 20 million Americans are expected to develop Alzheimer’s disease and 40 percent of all health care costs will be attributable to dementia. Led by Dr. Ashe, the Grossman Center is working to end the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s, the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Ashe and her team have worked tirelessly to pinpoint the causes and progression of Alzheimer’s, which could lead to better ways to detect and treat this disease. By studying a mouse genetically modified to include human genes linked to Alzheimer’s, Ashe proved that the visible effects of the disease in the brain were not its cause, and is on track to find a cause by looking deeper, at a molecular level. 

Peter Sorensen, Ph.D., professor of fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology; scientific director, Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center
Minnesota’s lakes and streams are increasingly threatened by aquatic invasive species, alien organisms that erode ecosystems and threaten the vitality of our state treasures. Through his efforts to mitigate common carp, Sorensen, a professor in the university’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, has developed the framework for a holistic, science-based approach to invasive species management. Now, he and his team are working to develop new means by which to measure, reduce, control and potentially eradicate aquatic invasive species.

The episode will also feature a discussion with Tubby Smith, head coach of the Gopher men’s basketball team, on how he considers Minnesota to be the most charitable place he has ever lived. Viewers will also learn how U of M alum and Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy and his wife, Lauren, started the Dungy Family Foundation, an organization that works with elementary schools, libraries and other community programs to stimulate reading at an early age. The Dungys have also written a series of children’s books. Their seventh book is due out this summer.

“BTN LiveBIG” is the second BTN collaborative campus program series produced in conjunction with the Big Ten Conference and its 12 universities. The first was 2012’s “Impact the World.” BTN is co-producing the series with Chicago-based TeamWorks Media, a creative content company that specializes in producing inspirational stories and also produced “Impact.”

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