Congratulations to Kristine Ajrouch – 3 New Funded Projects

Congratulations to Kristine Ajrouch – 3 New Funded Projects

Congratulations to Kristine Ajrouch, Professor of Sociology at Eastern Michigan University, on winning two new National Institute of Aging (NIA) and one Michigan Health Endowment Foundation (MHEF) funded projects on Arab Americans and Alzheimer’s disease.

Learn more about each of these projects below:

Michigan Center for Contextual Factors in Alzheimer’s Disease (MCCFAD)
Funded by the National Institute of Aging: 1 P30 AG059300-01
PI: Kristine J. Ajrouch, PhD

ABSTRACT
Michigan Center for Contextual Factors in Alzheimer’s Disease (MCCFAD) aims to foster and enhance innovative research in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) with the long term goals to 1) advance ADRD-relevant social and behavioral science research in underserved and underrepresented communities while; 2) diversify the research workforce dedicated to healthy aging. This center will build on the existing deep infrastructure and research strengths in dementia and aging research at the University of Michigan (UM). The MCCFAD will emphasize research in three priority areas of: epidemiology, health economics, and culturally sensitive care. The rationale for these three areas is directly related to the current lack of a comprehensive understanding of the contextual complexities inherent in ADRD disparities, the need to enhance diversity in the professional research workforce addressing the brain and cognitive health of older adults, as well as dynamic changes in the demographic and multi-cultural composition of the U.S. population. The MCCFAD will promote diversifying the research workforce dedicated to healthy aging through collaborations with other NIA-sponsored Centers and programs and via connections with R1, R2 and R3 universities in Michigan. The Center will focus on the contexts in which ADRD is experienced. Knowledge concerning the contexts of ADRD is quite limited but has been shown to be critical for elucidating sociocultural, economic and behavioral contributors to and consequences of health disparities generally and ADRD disparities specifically. The Center’s four Cores are: Administrative (AC), Research and Education (REC), Analytic (AnC), Community Liaison and Recruitment (CLRC) with the following specific aims: Aim 1: Advance ADRD-relevant disparities research in epidemiology, health economics, and culturally-sensitive care; Aim 2: Recruit and mentor 15 AD-RCMAR Scientists (RS) from the pilot-study investigator stage through professional publications and independent research applications and funding; Aim 3: Connect with African American, Arab American and Latino communities to broaden understanding of intra- and inter-cultural factors affecting participation in ADRD research. The Center profits from the groundbreaking, successful work of their extensive network of experienced mentors and experts. These resources, along with planned structure and activities will ensure that, upon receiving NIA designation as an AD-RCMAR, the MCCFAD will have a significant impact in diversifying the research workforce dedicated to healthy aging while enhancing research to better understand AD and related forms of dementia across various contexts.

Website: https://mccfad.isr.umich.edu/home

Alzheimer’s Disease Risk and Ethnic Factors: The Case of Arab Americans
Funded by the National Institute of Aging: 1 R01 AG057510-01A1
PI: Kristine J. Ajrouch, PhD

ABSTRACT
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) afflicts 11% of the U.S. population aged 65 and over, and half of these cases go undiagnosed. The incidence of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and AD is higher among many racial/ ethnic minorities, but rates among Arab Americans, who possess more cardiovascular risk factors than whites, are unknown. The first of its kind, this study will collect regionally representative data from Arab Americans (N=600) aged 65 and over living in the metro-Detroit area, home to the largest and most visible Arab American community in the U.S. Additionally, we will leverage an existing sample of black and white older adults from the Survey of Social Relations (SRS) to compare and contrast prevalence of AD and the role of structural factors among Arab Americans to other populations in the same geographic area. The planned project will form the basis of a future prospective study to advance understanding of racial/ethnic health disparities in AD incidence. The specific aims are to: 1) Characterize cognition and AD risk among Arab Americans in metro-Detroit; 2) Determine the contribution of immigrant factors to cognition and AD risk among older Arab Americans; 3) Identify aspects of social networks that have greatest effects on cognition and AD risk. This project will produce currently unavailable normative data that will assist practitioners in the assessment of AD in English and Arabic speaking Arab American elders. With a focus on AD disparities, and socio-behavioral factors, these data will provide opportunities to compare to regional and national data on other racial/ethnic minorities in the quest to quantify health disparities and identify mechanisms that cause and sustain them. In addition to delineating health disparities, studying Arab Americans can refine our understanding of immigrant health in the U.S. Further, the study of social networks among diverse racial/ethnic groups will reveal how and why social ties form and function as a protective factor (direct and buffering) on cognitive health. Understanding the role of structural and cultural factors will refine theory about AD disparities and provide key information to better develop intervention strategies for effective management of this growing and high-cost disease.

A Family-Centered Approach to Dementia Caregiving in Cultural Context
Funded by the Michigan Health Endowment Foundation
PI: Kristine J. Ajrouch, PhD

ABSTRACT
This initiative will advance knowledge and practice around critical needs in Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) caregiving by breaking new ground in terms of explicitly focusing on family systems as part of a caregiver support intervention. Further, we aim to maximize health and quality of life within the large and growing Arab-American community in Michigan through cultural/linguistic adaptations of evidence-based caregiver education and support strategies. Identifying successful and challenging elements of the adapted intervention will enable us to create a finalized version of a program tool kit, which will set the stage for full-scale broader implementation in underserved diverse populations.