African American Network Against Alzheimer’s Leads Sustained Effort to Increase Minority Participation in Clinical Trials

Ranit Schmelzer; 202-538-1065; rschmelzer@usagainstalzheimers.org

Washington, DC – African Americans are two to three times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than white Americans, yet they are less likely to be diagnosed.  While Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, it is the fourth leading cause of death for older African Americans. 

Alzheimer’s is the only disease in the top ten that currently has no cure, treatment, or prevention.

A critical factor in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s is participation in clinical trials, which is the step-by-step process that studies or tests a new procedure, drug, or vaccine for prevention, treatment, screening or improving quality of life.  African Americans make up over 13 percent of the population but are only five percent of clinical trials participants.  And this number is even lower for older African Americans.  

The African American Network Against Alzheimer’s (AANAA) is spearheading a nationwide effort to increase enrollment in clinical trials by meeting African Americans where they are – in churches, community centers, and through leading organizations – and providing them with the information they need to participate. 

AANAA is also partnering with the Forget Me Not Project to raise awareness of the disease through local productions of the award-winning play, “Forget Me Not.”  The play, directed by Garrett Davis, shows just how far-reaching a disease like Alzheimer's can be by affecting not just the immediate family but friends and those in the community as well.

“We need to ban together to increase minority participation, and African American participation in particular, in clinical trials.  It’s the only way to ensure that new drugs, treatments and therapies are both safe and effective for our community,” said Stephanie Monroe, an award-winning Director of the African American Network Against Alzheimer’s.  “By going straight to the heart of communities, we hope to spread the word and make a real difference.”

WHAT:           Production of the play “Forget Me Not” followed by a panel discussion with representatives from Georgetown University and Howard University

WHEN:           Friday, June 20 from 10:00 AM – 12:30 PM (tickets are free; click here to register)

WHERE:         The Atlas Theatre, 1333 H Street, NW in Washington, DC

To schedule an interview with AANAA’s Stephanie Monroe please contact Ranit Schmelzer at 202-538-1065 or rschmelzer@usagainstalzheimers.org.

The African American Network Against Alzheimer’s is part of USAgainstAlzheimer’s, a growing national movement committed to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s by 2020.  USAgainstAlzheimer’s brings together the scientific community, government agencies, membership and caregiving organizations, corporations, and those most affected by the disease to harness our collective knowledge, resources, and influence.

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The African American Network Against Alzheimer’s (AANAA) aims to unify the powerful voice of the African American community on the issue of Alzheimer’s disease.  AANAA arms African Americans and others who are committed to our mission with the information and easy-to-use connections needed to be heard by the public, in Washington and in state capitals, and by industry leaders and the research community. Their goal is to engage and connect a network of individuals, businesses, and nonprofit organizations to mobilize the energy of African Americans in advocacy efforts that advance our national commitment to ending Alzheimer’s.

Stephanie Monroe is the director of African American Network Against Alzheimer’s and received the 2014 R.H. Boyd Humanitarian Award at the 108th Annual Session of the National Baptist Congress.  Stephanie is an attorney with three decades of federal public policy experience, having served most recently as the Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights from 2005-2009. Prior to serving in the Executive Branch, Stephanie held a number of key staff positions in the United States Congress, including Chief Counsel of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, as well as Chief Counsel and Staff Director of the Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families. With a particular emphasis of domestic policy issues involving health, education, child welfare, individual empowerment and community services, Stephanie helped develop and navigate dozens of bills from policy inception to legislative enactment.  

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