African Americans Fighting Alzheimer’s in Midlife (AA-FAIM) is a sub-study of the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention (WRAP), designed to understand how mid-life modifiable risk factors impact African Americans at risk for Alzheimer’s Disease. Along with collecting cognitive data and lab tests, AA-FAIM emphasizes the inclusion of African Americans in biomarker research. Biomarker studies include brain scans and cerebral spinal fluid collection and are conducted in order to identify Alzheimer’s Disease before there are clinical symptoms. For example, blood pressure measurements are considered a biomarker for heart disease.
An important part of AA-FAIM enrollment includes feedback and referrals to resources for support and risk reduction; all AA-FAIM participants can sign up for this “wrap-around” service, whether or not they show any risk factors.
Once enrolled in AA-FAIM, participants will be asked to return bi-annually for visits. We will also provide bi-annual updates on any new/critical findings that have resulted from your data and for transparency to study participants.
How is the data being used?
Dr. Carey Gleason, PhD, MS
Dr. Gleason’s goals for the AA-FAiM study are to examine modifiable risks factors for Alzheimer’s disease in African Americans. Midlife is a key time to address these risk factors. Risk factors include: cardiovascular disease, neighborhood disadvantage, mood and stress related to experiences of discrimination, among others.
Dr. Megan Zuelsdorff
Dr. Zuelsdorff is interested in understanding the brain effects of lifetime stress. She examines total lifetime stress caused by a variety of factors experienced throughout the life span, and how this may affect stress hormone levels and brain health. She also examines how resilience can buffer us from these negative factors.
Dr. Lindsay Clark and Dr. Heather Johnson
Drs. Clark and Johnson are examining how the health of blood vessels in the brain and cardiovascular risk factors associate with biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive health with the hope of understanding how cardio and cerebrovascular health can protect the brain.
Dr. Mary Wyman
Dr. Wyman is a clinical psychologist interested in mental health and brain aging. She studies how mental health conditions, such as depression and apathy, might be early indicators of later cognitive loss. She also examines how family members and friends can support accurate assessment and treatment.
Dr. Emre Umucu
In collaboration with UW-Madison, Dr. Emre Umucu examines malleable positive psychological factors (e.g., positive emotion) and modifiable psychological risk factors (e.g. apathy) for the African Americans Fighting Alzheimer's in Midlife (AA- FAIM) project.
WRAP’s recruitment initiatives and AA-FAIM’s study design are informed by the Health Disparities Research Framework outlined by the National Institutes on Aging:
NIA Health Disparities Objectives
“Health disparities are associated with a broad, complex, and interrelated array of factors. Diagnosis, progression, response to treatment, caregiving, and overall quality of life may each be affected by race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status (SES), age, education, occupation, and other as yet unknown lifetime and lifestyle differences.
For example, a multi-ethnic epidemiologic study indicated that prevalence rates for Alzheimer’s disease may be higher for African Americans and Hispanics than for other ethnic groups. Another study found a striking relationship between SES and health and longevity. Gender differences in health and longevity are observed across racial and ethnic groups. We must first understand these differences and their interactions and then work to develop behavioral and public health interventions to reduce disparities and increase quality of life for all of our older citizens.
NIA objectives in this area include:
- Understand health differences and health inequities associated with race, ethnicity, gender, environment, socioeconomic status (SES), geography, access, and sociocultural factors among older adults.
- Develop strategies to promote active life expectancy and improve the health status of older adults in minority and other underserved populations.
- Use research insights and advances to inform policy on the health, economic status, and quality of life of all older adults.
“The NIA Health Disparities Research Frameworkshowcases priorities and investments in this important aging research area. This page is designed to serve as a resource for scientists interested in investigating health disparities related to aging. The Framework outlines four key levels of analysis related to disparities research–environmental, sociocultural, behavioral, and biological—with priority focus areas in each level. As we continue to address the issue of disparities among older minority populations, the Framework will help assess which areas are most in need of additional research resources. Using the Framework as a guide, NIA has awarded over $100 million in research awards since 2015 to explore the environmental, sociocultural, behavioral, and biological determinants of health disparities related to aging.”