January 25, 2019: Study finds yogurt, other dairy foods associated with better cardiometabolic health


The consumption of yogurt and other dairy foods is associated with healthier dietary habits and cardiometabolic profile, according to a new study by University of Maine researchers. The study by Georgina Crichton, Olivia Bogucki and Merrill Elias published in the International Dairy Journal explored the relationships among yogurt and other dairy foods, and dietary patterns, physiological measurements (body mass index, waist circumference, blood pressure, fasting plasma glucose, cholesterol) and lifestyle habits (smoking, physical activity). Dairy foods, including yogurt, have been shown to have a beneficial impact on multiple markers of physical health. However, it is important to focus on overall dietary patterns to understand how eating habits affect health, according to the researchers.

The study assessed the relationship between yogurt and other dairy products to the consumption of other foods, and the association between these dietary patterns and markers of cardiometabolic health. Crichton and colleagues found that participants who reported eating yogurt more regularly also ate more servings of fruit, vegetables, nuts and fish, and fewer servings of sweets, sugar-sweetened soda and alcohol. The data was used to calculate a yogurt-healthy-food eating score... Read More at UM News   Read the full paper at Science Direct




December 17, 2018Fayeza Ahmed named associate director of Maine Syracuse Longitudinal Study

University of Maine assistant professor of psychology Fayeza Ahmed has been named

the first associate director of the Maine Syracuse Longitudinal Study (MSLS) that focuses on

hypertension, cardiovascular risk factors and aging as predictors of cognitive functioning...


Read more at Umaine.edu here






December 3, 2018:Gregory A. Dore (1978-2018)
Our selection of Greg Dore for the first short summary of our collaborators’ and investigators’ work and contributions to the MSLS has been stimulated by a very sad event. Greg, age 38, unexpectedly passed away at his mother’s home (Saturday August 25, 2018), several days before a meeting planned at the University of Maine to discuss some programming and data management issues.

 
A Eulogy to Gregory Alan Dore by his Mentor and Colleague

 Greg’s scientific competence is very clear from his work.
I will speak briefly to his work and to his character in my comments

on his life and his scientific accomplishments.

My first memory of Greg goes back to the year 2002.
He was standing in my office at the University of Maine wearing that

infectious smile that was his hallmark.  Greg sat down and conveyed to me that he was bored with his courses in engineering

and wanted to transfer to psychology and to work on our research grant.

“Good that he knew about our study,” I thought to myself, “but possibly this is just a student escaping to psychology from the quantitative rigors of an engineering curriculum.” After a scan of his transcript, this hypothesis was rejected.  He was in good academic standing and his resume indicated excellence in quantitative skills and an exemplary record in high school.  

But my next thought was, “Can he write a paper?” My reply took the form of challenge:  “Ok, we will take you as a student and you can join our study team, but first you have to prove that you can write as well as you can calculate. Here is the challenge:  (1) you must take a data set and perform a professional level analysis with our supervision and (2) as senior author, and within one year, you must publish a paper in a peer reviewed journal.”

I looked up, expecting him to be exiting from my office; but, to my surprise he was still sitting across from me, still wearing that trademark smile. Greg accomplished those goals well within the time limit specified and went on to make major contributions to our study via data analysis, attending scientific meetings and publishing as an undergraduate. One of his early papers has been widely sited and has proven to be a valuable research tool for others. [See Dore, GA et al. Cognitive performance and age. Norms from the Maine Syracuse Longitudinal Study.  Experimental Aging Research; 2007; 33; 205-271.] The paper stimulated the publication of normative data for other longitudinal studies, for example, the Framingham Heart Study.

Greg graduated from the University of Maine, Magna Cum Laude, BA in Psychology in 2004, and with the PhD in Psychology in 2013. His research emphasis was on cardiovascular epidemiology.  Among many academic honors, he received the Outstanding Graduate Student Award in Psychology, Phi Chi, Phi Beta Kappa, Golden Key International Society, and the American Psychosomatic Society Young Scholar Award. But we remember him best for his many contributions to the MSLS, among these his sense of humor and his character and one would need to read his vitae to appreciate his scholarship because he never talked about it.  Greg was interested in the process not the product.

Greg loved to debate about the best approach to statistical analysis. We debated on many occasions.  In fact, one of my fondest memories is sitting in a pub in Boston after we attended a meeting together on assessing dementia. I was expounding on how best to do an analysis and he was disagreeing vigorously and wearing his usual grin. We retired well after midnight following an inspiring group discussion that included the revelers around us. Over time, Greg won some debates and so did I; but those debates led to an irreplaceable bond between professor and student, and, as is often the case, exemplified the time-tested opportunity for professors to learn from students who are inevitably scholars in their areas of expertise.

 With PhD in hand, Greg went on to postdoctoral training at the Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience, Biomedical Research Center, National Institute on Aging, where he was mentored by Alan Zonderman and Shari Waldstein. At the time of his passing Greg was working on a major paper on activity level in African Americans as part of the Healthy Aging in Neighborhoods of Diversity Longitudinal Study (HANDLS) study. He was on the verge of completing his postdoctoral work, and had published 27 peer reviewed journal articles, was senior author on 5, and had at least 2 papers in progress employing data from the HANDLS study.  

Together with Greg, we continued to publish MSLS data during his time at NIA, and it was some of our best work.  I know there were days when he just wanted me to stop generating ideas for studies that I wanted to do.  We had a mutual joke about Greg hiding under his desk when I called; I always left a message on his phone saying; “I know you are there Greg, I see you hiding under your desk.” But he always got back and it always led to another paper. Greg never said no. The word was not in his vocabulary.

Greg’s research interest was in cardiovascular risk factors for cognitive deficit and, with his co-authors, he produced papers on the relationships of diabetes, hypertension, orthostatic hypertension and obesity to cognition, as well as interactions of ApoE genotype with diabetes and homocysteine. He served as a reviewer for Health Psychology, Stroke, Hypertension, Neuroscience Letters, Diabetes Care, and American Journal of Epidemiology. He was deeply interested in diabetes and cognitive performance as was reflected in his dissertation on type 2 diabetes and arterial stiffness [https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/etd/1931] His hallmark work was his study showing a dramatic increase in risk for lowered cognitive performance in type 2 diabetics among carriers of the ApoE epsilon 4 allele. [See Dore et at., Diabetalogia, 2009; 52: 2551-2560.]  Yoda (Star Wars) famously said, “Do or not do, there is no try.” Greg was a “do guy” as is clear from his contributions to the literature and his incredible contributions to data management and programming.

But there is more here than a story of skill and competence. It was a matter of giving of these skills to others. As is true of all those unfortunate human beings with computer programming talent, Greg was besieged by requests from faculty and students alike for help with statistics and programming. He spent hours with students, faculty and our own research group. He gave generously of his time, sometimes at cost to his own progress. After he left the University he continued to give time to helping others with programming issues. A common phrase was: “Ask Greg” or “Go to Greg for that.” Yes, and that was what we did over and over and over again even after he had no formal obligation to our study.

After his passing, I learned that this habit of helping others was characteristic of Greg from his very early years. Greg’s mother told us that he would finish his grade school assignments early, and then complain to his teacher that he was bored, to which one of his teachers responded, “We can cure that.  You will work with the other students and help them with their assignments.” Greg loved this proposal and his teacher was grateful for a classroom assistant. He carried on this practice of helping others through high school on to university and through his career as a scientist.

On August 25, 2018 we lost a colleague, a friend and that grin. You left us too soon Greg. We miss your intellect, your friendship, your unfailing help and your smile.   As Euripides said of his friend and colleague: “come back if only as a shadow or a dream.”


Merrill F. Elias




 MSLS Perspectives: News

Perspectives on the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study