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More Black Participation Needed in Aging Studies to Make Research Culturally Relevant


Danielle Davis, MADRC Clinical Research Coordinator

The Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center conducts memory and aging-related research studies to advance understanding about and improve the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias. African American participation is low for many studies that support healthy aging. It is important for African Americans to participate in research so that the development of future treatments and cures is culturally responsive and supportive of all populations.


African Americans face unique risks. Having a higher rate of vascular disease, the community is at a two times higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than are white people. However, African American engagement in dementia research has faced numerous barriers at the systemic, community and institutional levels.


This reticence to participate in research can be traced back to previous examples of unethical research practices which created some understandable wariness about participating in studies. Also, many are not aware of the potential community benefits that come from engaging in dementia-related studies.


“We all know education is key, but when it comes to research, so is representation. Participation not only benefits the volunteer but it could provide key information that will be beneficial for many generations to come,” said MADRC Clinical Research Coordinator Danielle Davis.


MADRC says that acknowledging and understanding the history of African American participation in research is so important to the center’s work that they are inviting community groups to dialogue and hear more about the importance of African American participation in research, and about available research studies to participate in. Davis will present information to organizations in metro Detroit to provide education, information on resources, and to answer questions regarding participating in research. The goal is to address the barriers to participation in a safe and welcoming environment, to advance the science of these diseases.


Interested groups can contact Davis at daviscd@med.umich.edu, or 734.764.5137. To learn more about the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center, please visit www.alzheimers.med.umich.edu.


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