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Alzheimer’s Association Partners with AME Church to Support African Americans With Dementia

By | November 6th, 2019

In moves designed to significantly expand its outreach into new communities, the Alzheimer’s Association has launched new partnerships with CVS Health and the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.

In another high-level partnership announced this week, philanthropist Bill Gates pledged $10 million to Alzheimer’s research, a figure the Alzheimer’s Association said will lead to $60 million funding for the association’s special research. That research is designed to quickly move potential therapies from the laboratory to clinical trials.

The CVS partnership aims to raise $10 million over three years and to place information about Alzheimer’s in 9,900 CVS Pharmacy locations throughout the country.

“I know from my own experience caring for my mother as she battled Alzheimer’s how important it is to support both the patient and the caregivers in that patient’s life,” Kevin Hourican, President of CVS Pharmacy, said in a news release.

The partnership with the AME Church is also targeted at educating and engaging another deeply impacted community. Scientific research has shown that African Americans are at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s and are less likely to have a diagnosis of their condition, limiting treatment opportunities.

Bishop Harry Seawright, President of the Council of Bishops and Chairman of the AME Church Commission on Health, said that Alzheimer’s caused his mother’s death 13 years ago and that his sister is currently battling dementia.

“So, for me, it’s very personal,” Bishop Seawright said in a news release, adding that “many in our community suffer with hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses that can increase risk of Alzheimer’s.”

Rey Martinez, the Alzheimer’s Association’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, said he hoped the partnership with the AME Church will be “robust.”

“We want AME Church members to be engaged in every aspect of the Alzheimer’s Association mission,” Martinez added in the news release. “The AME Church is an influential voice and has been a proven champion for so many important faith-based issues.”

The AME Church is the oldest and one of the largest historically African American denominations in the country. With 2.5 million members worldwide—2 million of which are in the United States—the AME Church is one of the largest Methodist denominations in the world.

The Gates contribution was made to the Association’s “Part the Cloud” research grant program, which is focused on moving potential therapies into clinical trials. The Association said the new funds would be used to explore three specific areas: how brain cells use energy and fuel, how brain cells remove waste and debris to avoid protein clumping, and how blood supply in the brain is maintained.

“By better understanding the underpinnings of how brain cells can maintain normal function, more potential therapeutic options can be developed,” said Maria Carrillo, the Association’s chief science officer.

“Part the Cloud awards,” she added, “are specifically designed to accelerate translation of findings from the laboratory through clinical trials and into possible therapies, filling the gap in Alzheimer’s drug development by providing essential support for early-phase clinical studies.”

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