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CDC Selects Alzheimer’s Association as National Public Health Center of Excellence on Dementia Risk Reduction

CDC Selects Alzheimer’s Association as National Public Health Center of Excellence on Dementia Risk Reduction
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September 8, 2020
Email: media@alz.org
Alzheimer’s Association media line: 312.335.4078
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  • Association one of three BOLD public health centers of excellence in the country
  • Will lead national effort to develop and promote public health strategies aimed at addressing cognitive decline and dementia risk reduction
CHICAGO, September 8, 2020 — The Alzheimer’s Association announced today that it has been selected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the BOLD Public Health Center of Excellence (PHCOE) on Dementia Risk Reduction. The Association will lead a national effort to develop and disseminate public health strategies and resources aimed at reducing risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
 
“We are honored the CDC is entrusting the Alzheimer’s Association to lead this important public health initiative,” said Harry Johns, president and CEO, Alzheimer’s Association. “Reducing the risk of cognitive decline and dementia is core to our mission. We’re excited to work with leaders in public health and dementia research to develop needed strategies and resources that can help citizens across the country reduce their risk of cognitive decline.”
 
As the PHCOE on Dementia Risk Reduction, the Alzheimer’s Association will lead efforts to translate the current science into tools and materials on risk reduction that public health agencies can use, including tools to reduce risk in diverse communities. The Association will work with these agencies and the broader public health community to implement risk reduction best practices and proven strategies. Specifically, the Alzheimer’s Association will lead work aimed at the following:
  • Reviewing the most up-to-date scientific evidence on modifiable risk factors for cognitive decline and dementia;
  • Identifying public health approaches to address the risk factors;
  • Translating the scientific evidence into specific activities that can be undertaken by public health agencies;
  • Making all information publicly available on an online clearinghouse;
  • Disseminating the materials to, and securing action by, public health agencies to undertake efforts to implement best practices and strategies on risk reduction in communities around the country;
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of the work to inform development of additional tools and best practices.
The Alzheimer’s Association is one of three PHCOEs to be funded under the BOLD Act signed into law in 2018. The other two PHCOEs cover early diagnosis of dementia and dementia caregiving. The Alzheimer’s Association, including its Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter, is also a lead partner and subgrantee for the PHCOE on Dementia Caregiving, which will be based at the University of Minnesota. 

The Association and the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM) were instrumental in the development, introduction and passage of BOLD. The law is aimed at creating a national public health infrastructure to implement effective Alzheimer’s interventions which focus on public health, including risk reduction, early detection and diagnosis, and supporting dementia caregiving.
 
Cognitive decline, including subjective cognitive decline and mild cognitive impairment (MCI), are common precursors to Alzheimer’s and other dementias that impact more than 5 million Americans. While there is no treatment currently for Alzheimer’s, there is growing evidence to suggest that individuals may be able to reduce their risk of cognitive decline and possibly dementia by adopting healthy lifestyles, including physical exercise, healthy diet, and controlling heart health risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and smoking.
 
The Alzheimer’s Association is already examining the role many of these same interventions may play in reducing cognitive decline in at-risk, older adults through its U.S. Study to Protect Brain Health Through Lifestyle Intervention to Reduce Risk (U.S. POINTER) study. The two-year clinical trial is the first such study of this kind to be conducted in a large, diverse group of Americans across the United States.

“Risk reduction of cognitive decline is an important focus for the Alzheimer’s Association,” Johns said. “The current science suggests that there are actions people can take to reduce the risk of cognitive decline. With this Center of Excellence, our work will be focused on developing and identifying the best strategies to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and translating them into information and resources that state and local public health departments can easily implement in their communities.”
 
The Alzheimer’s Association will work closely with four major partners to conduct its work:
  • Wake Forest School of Medicine, which is also part of the leadership team for U.S. POINTER, will review and synthesize the scientific evidence on risk reduction;
  • Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) will work with state public health officials to undertake actions on risk reduction;
  • National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) will work with local public health officials to undertake actions on risk reduction; and
  • Bridge Builder Strategies will develop and facilitate Community Convenings to mobilize cross-sector action on risk reduction in mid- to smaller-sized localities.
“The scientific and clinical team at Wake Forest is honored and pleased to be a partner with the Alzheimer’s Association and the CDC in this BOLD Center of Excellence,” said Jeff Williamson, Professor of Internal Medicine and Epidemiology, and Chief of the Section on Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine. “We look forward to bringing more and more clarity about the evidence for best approaches to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia to persons with dementia, caregivers, communities, and health systems.”

The CDC’s five-year cooperative grant agreement will begin on September 30, 2020. Funding for the first year will be $673,487. Funding levels for subsequent years are based on availability of funds, but are anticipated to be approximately the same, totaling more than $3.3 million over five years. The CDC sub grant to support the PHCOE on Dementia Caregiving is expected to be approximately $60,000 in the first year, with funding levels for subsequent years also based on availability of funds and the activities the Association will undertake.

The two CDC PHCOE grants further elevate the Alzheimer’s Association’s leadership role in developing and delivering needed public health strategies and resources to help local communities tackle Alzheimer’s disease. Earlier this year, the CDC expanded and renewed for another five years the Alzheimer’s Association’s Healthy Brain Initiative (HBI) grant, which began in 2005. During that time, HBI has been a catalyst for securing collection of state data on Alzheimer’s-related issues, developing Public Health Road Maps to guide public health agencies in addressing Alzheimer’s, and developing the first university public health curriculum on Alzheimer’s for the future public health workforce. Funding under the five-year renewal was nearly tripled to $2.8 million for the first year.
 

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