Contributed by Dylan Wint, MD, director of Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health
In September 2020, Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health was awarded a $3.3 million grant by the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish the Nevada exploratory Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (NVeADRC).
With this grant, the NVeADRC is the first of its kind in Nevada to join the NIH’s prestigious network of Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers. We will use this opportunity to build infrastructure and initiate statewide collaborations to better understand and reduce disparities faced by individuals with dementia in rural and frontier Nevada communities.
Differences in health outcomes among those living in rural areas have long been recognized, and memory disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, are no exception. Some studies find that people in smaller communities are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, and they have worse outcomes. However, nobody knows why.
The NVeADRC is the first step in helping us answer this question as well as increasing our knowledge about healthy brain aging and Alzheimer’s disease. Alongside the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), we are seeking volunteers from Mesquite to participate in this observational research study. This means no experimental treatment is given. Instead, we follow participants over time to observe natural and abnormal changes in brain health and identify when, where and how things go wrong.
Those who enroll in the study will come to Las Vegas to meet with our team to learn more about their brain health. We will evaluate their brain health annually until the completion of the study. This evaluation includes brain scans, blood tests, and memory tests. The study sponsor pays for all of these tests and procedures. There will be no bill to you or your health insurance plan and you can continue to get your medical care as usual. As a courtesy, we will also provide a stipend for participating.
The study is open to people without any memory issues as well as those who have memory problems such as Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment. We are recruiting Mesquite residents who:
- Are age 55 or older
- Have at least 8th grade education
- Can bring a “study partner”–someone who knows you well and can attend clinic visits with you
- Are fluent in English
- Are willing and able to undergo 8 hours of testing in Las Vegas.
- Have no history of brain damage such as:
- Serious head injury
- Brain tumor
This research study gives participants—we like to call them Citizen Scientists — opportunities to help further our understanding of brain aging in our own families, friends, and communities. Understanding is the only way that we can develop effective treatments. Citizen Scientists in this study will also receive useful information about how their own brains are changing with age. The desert southwest has been left out of brain research for too long, and the NVeADRC gives us a chance to correct this and improve our health for years to come.
For more information about the NVeADRC, brain health, and other research opportunities at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, please visit healthybrains.org/research.