PhD candidate Fengpei Yuan has been named a 2023 ISTAART (International Society to Advance Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment) ambassador, which will provide her with opportunities to improve the healthcare and overall wellbeing of individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias. Yuan is one of thirty-one ambassadors from fourteen countries selected for this year’s cohort.
The ISTAART program was launched by the Alzheimer’s Association as a new avenue to advance dementia research and bring together the global Alzheimer’s and dementia science community. It has grown into an inclusive global network of scientists, clinicians, and professionals who share common goals: the pursuit of knowledge, collaborations, and breakthroughs to find more effective ways to detect, treat, and prevent Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
“Being selected as an ISTAART ambassador is a profound honor that aligns perfectly with my deep-seated passion for Alzheimer’s research and advocacy,” said Yuan. “I see this prestigious opportunity as a platform to not only gain invaluable experiences but also to collaborate and exchange ideas with researchers who share the same commitment.”
As an ambassador, Yuan will spend the next year connecting with early career researchers and providing them with year-round professional development and networking opportunities, promoting the ISTAART program, and building awareness of ISTAART activities such as the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference. A critical part of her role will be attending monthly ambassador meetings where she will align strategies with fellow ambassadors and brainstorm initiatives to further ISTAART’s mission. After serving for a year, she will join a network of ambassador alumni for continued collaborations.
“I am excited about this opportunity to not only learn and grow professionally but also to make a meaningful contribution to the ISTAART community,” said Yuan. “As an ambassador, I am committed to raising ISTAART’s profile and facilitating the development of early career researchers in our field.”
In this pivotal role, Yuan plans to host local events, advocate for ISTAART on social media, collaborate with media outlets, conduct academic outreach, publish research, and participate in conferences to make a tangible difference in the Alzheimer’s community.
Serving as ambassador will also have a profound influence on Yuan’s research and career trajectory. She will gain invaluable exposure to the latest advancements and be able to develop professional relationships with leading experts in dementia care, resulting in collaborative research and advocacy projects as well as expanding her horizons in the field.
Under the direction of MABE Professor Xiaopeng Zhao, Yuan’s research focuses on the development of social robotics and human-centered AI for augmenting and enhancing dementia care. This includes developing social robots to assist with daily living activities, promote social interaction and communication, and facilitate cognitive rehabilitation and exercises for people with dementia.
“I firmly believe it is our responsibility, and indeed mine, to contribute to supporting those affected by dementia and their families in their battle against this relentless disease,” said Yuan. “This conviction underpins my desire to engage in research. In essence, I am a strong advocate for research with a purpose: to construct a better world for all, particularly for the most vulnerable among us. I am confident that my commitment to research in this field is a significant step towards that goal.”
Yuan will complete her PhD in biomedical engineering in spring 2024. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career as a researcher, educator, and advocate for biomedical innovation to support dementia care and promote healthy longevity.
Kathy Williams (firstname.lastname@example.org, 865-974-8615)