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Corewell Health researcher spearheading study identifying environmental and social factors contributing to cognitive aging in Black seniors

Corewell Health

National Institutes of Health investing $4.8 million in nationwide Alzheimer's disease research project.

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death for White Americans over the age of 65. For Black Americans, it’s the fourth leading cause of death.

“It’s not enough for us to compare Blacks to Whites, we need to know how Blacks differ from each other?”

Dr. Travonia Brown-Hughes is an associate professor at Hampton University and Johns Hopkins Resource Center Minority Aging Research scientist.

Through the Black American United Memory & Aging project 600 Black adults aged 55 and older from across the country are encouraged to register in the online study. Participants will receive a mobile phone installed with cognitive tests. Corewell Health will send out a kit for retrieving saliva samples measuring DNA strands.

“If you include stressors such as racism, geographic location, diet, exercise, you include all that information, it will give you an output whereby that will shorten faster. So, we’re trying to measure that to see, with all these perceived stressors, do these individuals in the black community age quicker?”

That’s Corewell Health neuroscientist Dr. Stewart Graham.

“We’re going to combine our biomedical measurements with all the psychological measurements with all of our cognitive testing information and believe me it’s going to be a large pot of information which is going to give us a direct readout of how these individuals are effected over this time period.”

For more information on the five-year study visit secure.ba-umap.com.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.