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


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.  

African Americans Against Alzheimer’s (also known as the African American Network) 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. 

African Americans Against Alzheimer’s is 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. Locally, the African American Network is partnering with the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Memory Center, which has been active in the Alzheimer’s field.

“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, Director of African Americans Against Alzheimer’s, who was named Humanitarian of the Year by the National Baptist Congress this year for her Alzheimer's outreach activities. “By going straight to the heart of communities, we hope to spread the word and make a real difference.”

WHAT:           Two productions of the play “Forget Me Not” followed by panel discussions (details below)

WHEN:           Saturday, September 27, shows at 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM (tickets for both shows are free but they are sold out)

10:00 AM Panel Discussion:

Moderator: Felicia Greenfield, Associate Director for Clinical and Research Operations at the Penn Memory Center

Panelists: Dr. Steven Arnold, Director, Penn Memory Center;Dr. Jason Karlawish, Associate Director, Penn Memory Center; Florence Collins-Hardy, Penn Memory Center Research Participant; Garrett Davis, Director, Forget Me Not; and Stephanie Monroe, USAgainstAlzheimer’s and African Americans Against Alzheimer’s

2:00 PM Panel Discussion:

Moderator: Sandra Lawrence, Penn Memory Center Community Advisory Board Member

Panelists: Dr. Jerry Johnson, Chief, Penn Geriatric Medicine Division; Dr. Selam Negash, Research Associate, Penn Memory Center; Florence Collins-Hardy, Penn Memory Center Research Participant; Garrett Davis, Director, Forget Me Not; and Stephanie Monroe, USAgainstAlzheimer’s and African Americans Against Alzheimer’s

WHERE:         The New Freedom Theatre, 1346 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia

“We are very excited to be collaborating with the African American Network Against Alzheimer’s to host “Forget Me Not” in Philadelphia,” said Tigist Hailu, Coordinator for Diversity in Research, Penn Memory Center, University of Pennsylvania. “This a great opportunity to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and the importance of research for the health and well-being of the African American community in Philadelphia.”

To schedule an interview with Stephanie Monroe please contact Ranit Schmelzer at 202-538-1065 or [email protected].

African Americans Against Alzheimer’s is a network 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.


African Americans Against Alzheimer’s aims to unify the powerful voice of the African American community in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. The network 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 Americans 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.

The Penn Memory Center is a National Institute on Aging funded Alzheimer’s disease center. The center conducts local and multi-site investigational drug trials, imaging studies, and interview studies in order to better understand and treat people with Alzheimer’s and other age-related progressive memory disorders.