DIMENSIONS Spring 1998

MEET WALTER KUKULL

by Michael Matulka

Bud Kukull was introduced to Alzheimer's disease research in 1983, when he had just completed his Ph.D. in epidemiology at the University of Washington. Kukull was asked to write a grant renewal for the Alzheimer's Disease Patient Registry (ADPR). Being new to the field, Kukull didn't expect to get the grant. Much to his surprise and satisfaction Kukull did get the grant renewed, and has done so several more times, continuing the ADPR grant for 17 years.

As a full-time professor of epidemiology and an adjunct professor in health services at the UW, work for Kukull has meant balancing the world of teaching, grant-writing and research. "Teaching in tandem with research keeps you sharper," says Kukull. He believes that teaching enables him to stay more current with the latest technologies, and requires a more in-depth knowledge of the methods used in research to teach them to others. "As a researcher," Kukull explains, "you can use a method for research without the same understanding of how it works as when you teach it."

A native of Washington, Kukull likes to spend whatever free time he can with his wife and three children. He also enjoys playing his guitar and exercising to stay in shape. These spare moments have become precious commodities, especially with the additional burden of travel.

Having just returned this spring from a National Institutes of Health (NIH) AD researcher conference in Bethesda, MD., Kukull sees the field of AD research moving in new directions. Investigating particular types of sporadic AD, the occurrence of AD in sibling pairs and early life factors (such as nutrition, growth and development) are a few of the potentially rich new directions he sees. With each new area of AD research, certain questions are answered. "But," Kukull points out, "more questions arise because we are just learning to ask the right questions."


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