The KU Alzheimer’s Disease Center is Using a $4.3 million NIH Grant to Power its Research and Dementia-Care Efforts

May 19, 2021

Human brain scan

The KU Alzheimer’s Disease Center is using a three-year, $4.3 million award to help enhance its dementia research and care efforts across the city, state and region.

Scientists at the University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Center (KC ADC) are convinced the path to beating back the life-robbing disease goes through clinical trials fueled by research volunteers willing to join the battle. A three-year, $4.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health expected to supercharge those critical recruitment efforts and elevate dementia care in communities across the region.

Jeff Burns, M.D., co-director of the KU ADC and a professor of neurology at the University of Kansas Medical Center, thinks the number one barrier to finding a cure for dementia is a lack of volunteers to participate in research.

“It’s not that people don’t want to participate,” Burns said. “Access and knowledge of ongoing opportunities are real challenges for potential clinical trial participants.”

To help address those hurdles and improve dementia care, the KU ADC is taking an ambitious three-prong approach to the grant.

  • This winter, it created MyAlliance for Brain Health, a free community engagement and education effort open to anyone with an interest in brain health. MyAlliance provides individuals with regular communications including tips, strategies and other insights customized to their interests and needs. The underlying goal of the initiative is to help grow the pool of potential research-ready volunteers and boost the likelihood they will get involved when research opportunities arise.
  • The KU ADC also is using the NIH grant to strengthen its ties with communities of color and rural communities across Kansas by expanding the advisory role and educational and outreach capabilities of three of its long-standing community partners, the Black Health Care Coalition, El Centro, Inc., and OCCK.
  • Finally, the KU ADC is expanding its Cognitive Care Network, an established community-based initiative for providers, to enhance the care of people with dementia and boost the number of people with whom it shares information about its available research opportunities. 

A goal of this sprawling, innovative grant-funded initiative is to grow the KU ADC’s network of contacts by 1,000 research volunteers, primary care physicians, community organizations and other community members. Ultimately, the KU ADC hopes to enhance dementia care, improve its ability to recruit volunteers for its clinical trials, and help the city, state and region become more capable of identifying, supporting, and providing resources and services for people with dementia and their families.

Funding from the Johnson County Education Research Triangle supports the KU Clinical Research Center, where the KU Alzheimer’s Disease Center works with community volunteers to explore interventions that prevent, delay and treat Alzheimer’s disease other dementias.

For more information research opportunities and clinical trials, visit the KU ADC website.