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2023 Alzheimer's Association Research Grant to Promote Diversity (AARG-D)

Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias in Gender Minority Adults

How does the prevalence of dementia differ in transgender individuals and other gender minority adults?

Ethan Collin Cicero, Ph.D.
Emory University
Atlanta, GA - United States


According to research mentioned in the 2023 Alzheimer’s Association Facts and Figures report, sexual and gender minority (SGM) Americans may face increased dementia risk compared with non-SGM Americans. SGM refers to individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual (sexual minorities), and/or transgender or gender nonbinary, as well as individuals with a gender identity, gender expression or reproductive development that varies from traditional, societal, cultural or physiological norms (gender minorities). Recent studies have found, for example, that older SGM individuals may have higher rates of cognitive impairment than older non-SGM individuals. SGM Americans are also exposed to discrimination, higher rates of general health problems and other factors that may promote brain disease, especially in those individuals from underserved racial and ethnic groups. These findings, however, are preliminary, and more research will be needed to better understand dementia risk in SGM communities.    

Research Plan

Dr. Ethan Collin Cicero and colleagues will study the prevalence of Alzheimer’s and related dementias in gender minority individuals. They will collect electronic health records and other data from about 1,000 individuals in the Study of Transition, Outcomes and Gender (STRONG), a diverse study of health among gender minority adults. They will also review health records from about 20,000 cisgender (non-transgender) adults. The gender minority individuals will consist of two groups: about 800 transfeminine adults and about 200 transmasculine adults . Dr. Cicero’s team will analyze the STRONG data to assess how Alzheimer’s and related dementia prevalence in transfeminine and transmasculine individuals differs from that in cisgender individuals, and how dementia prevalence differs among gender minority individuals of different races and ethnicities. The researchers will also examine how other health factors (such as diabetes and heart disease), as well as the use of gender affirming care, may impact dementia prevalence in gender minority groups. 


Results from this project could broaden our understanding of the impact of dementia in the SGM community. They could also lead to novel methods of preventing and treating the disorder in this vulnerable population.

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