Dr. Sue Griffin is a professor and editor-in-chief whose tireless research on Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions has led to significant breakthroughs in the early detection and treatment of Alzheimer’s.
She grew up in Arkansas and attended high school in Ft. Smith. After graduation, she moved with her parents to Los Alamos, N.M., where she worked for the Atomic Energy Commission and met and married her husband, Dr. Edmond Griffin. They have two sons, Edmond II and Clay.
Griffin has served as the Alexa and William T. Dillard professor in geriatric research and director of research at the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Hailed as a “lifelong innovator, pioneer and trendsetter in science,” she has worked relentlessly on the details of progression for neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, Down Syndrome, head trauma and epilepsy. Her work has enabled scientists to research more specific angles to advance the prevention and treatment of these diseases. She was an Arkansas Woman of the Year in 2014.
She has continuously applied for and been awarded grants from the National Institutes of Health since 1991, and in 2016, was awarded a $10 million grant for the further study and possible treatments of Alzheimer’s disease. In 2016, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Alzheimer’s Association for her work at its International Conference in Toronto.
She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nutrition from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and earned her Ph.D. in physiology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine.
Dr. Griffin was a Moss Heart Fellow at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School where she and her husband were professors for 12 years. At Southwestern, she had a number of scientific firsts regarding interactions between the peripheral and neural immune systems.
When Dr. Griffin joined UAMS in 1986 and began to focus her attention on Alzheimer’s disease, she started with the idea that in response to nerve cell distress, the brain’s innate immune system produces small proteins called cytokines that act as drivers of the accumulation of the plaques and tangles that characterize Alzheimer’s disease in the brain.
Her research reported this year in the Alzheimer’s Association: Alzheimer’s and Dementia journal, shows how the ApoE 4 protein interferes with the normal production of proteins necessary for ridding nerve cells of waste that otherwise builds up and disrupts necessary nerve cell functions. Dr. Griffin’s future-oriented thinking led in 2004 to the creation of a successful new journal, the Journal of Neuroinflammation, which reports the latest science in the burgeoning field of neurodegenerative disease-associated immune responses in the brain. Drs. Griffin and Monica Carson are Editors-in-Chief.