Kotkowski’s research aims to characterize the neurocognitive effects of Type II Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome using meta-analysis through the BrainMap database and primary data from a database of close to 2000 Mexican Americans, all housed at the Research Imaging Institute.
This paper seeks to use a transdiagnostic, meta-analytic approach for identifying regions of the brain that are observed to co-atrophy with the hippocampus. The hippocampus has been considered a part of the brain targeted by many neurodegenerative diseases as well as a candidate region for Type II Diabetes-related neurodegeneration.
“It was important for us, in the absence of enough literature addressing neurodegeneration due to Type II Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome, to identify the most likely candidate regions that can then be studied more closely in primary data,” he explained. “We also sought to test the Network Degeneration Hypothesis, which states that changes in structure and function in the brain is network-based. For this we used BrainMap’s large dataset of both functional and structural imaging studies.”
Kotkowski explains that this research is important because the prevalence rates for Metabolic Syndrome and Type II Diabetes have been growing all around the world, and in the United States in particular.
“There is plenty of interest in addressing the epidemic pharmacologically through research into genetic, cellular, and molecular biology. Yet, there is still much to be learned about these metabolic diseases’ effects on the brain. My research is aimed at characterizing the gray matter changes that occur in the brain and how different components of metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance, obesity, low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, hypertension, and hyperglycemia) differentially contribute to gray matter atrophy,” he said. “This paper marks the first step in my dissertation project as a way to isolate our focus to the most significant brain regions that are known to co-atrophy with the brain region most often cited as being selectively implicated in Type II Diabetes-related neurodegeneration.”
This is Kotkowski’s first accepted publication.
“I have been working on learning the methodological and statistical techniques for this project since I began graduate school in 2015,” he said. “It is an amazing feeling to have something to show for all of the work and dedication I’ve put into this particular project and gives me a feeling that I am now truly a part of the scientific community. The fact that people will be writing “Kotkowski et al., 2018″ feels pretty awesome, too.”
Kotkowski expects to graduate a year and a half from now. He hopes to submit at least two to three more papers before his dissertation defense.