The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded Partnerships for Native Health a five-year Resource Center for Minority Aging Research (RCMAR) that focuses on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) in American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities. These populations are increasingly concerned about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, as these health conditions will have a major impact on their communities. To date, there is limited data on ADRD in these populations, and the healthcare systems that serve them are unprepared for the economic and social burdens associated with ADRD. While AI/ANs and NHPIs are culturally diverse and dispersed throughout the U.S., they share a high prevalence of risk factors for ADRD. In addition, life expectancies for AI/ANs and NHPIs have improved over the past few decades by as much as 30 years, which has resulted in a tripling of the Native population aged 65 and older.
This confluence of perceived need, high risk, and limited data in Native communities motivated Partnerships for Native Health to collaborate with Stanford University and the University of Colorado to better understand, intervene on, and mitigate ADRD-related health disparities experienced by AI/ANs and NHPIs. The NAD RCMAR will work to:
- Assemble resources and provide mentorship to early-career underrepresented minority scientists for sustained careers in ADRD research, with a focus on AI/AN and NHPI populations;
- Recruit RCMAR scientists, especially those of AI/AN, NHPI, and other underrepresented minority backgrounds, to conduct social and behavioral pilot studies in ADRD research;
- Promote advances in ADRD research and increase the number of independent underrepresented minority researchers, with an emphasis on AI/AN and NHPI health faculty, who can address the health and well-being of AI/AN and NHPI elders, improve health disparities, and foster gains from the individual to the societal level.