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2023 Pilot Awards for Global Brain Health Leaders (GBHI)

Identifying ethnic disparities in AD risk and blood biomarkers in Israel

How do factors that contribute to Alzheimer’s risk differ in individuals from underrepresented populations? 

Maison Abu Raya, M.D.
Rambam Health Care Campus
Haifa, Israel


Optimizing health for the world population requires eliminating disparities and addressing social determinants of health. Major strides in improving the global health can best occur by focusing on communities at greatest risk and eliminating barriers to quality healthcare services. Studies show that the genetic, environmental, and social factors that contribute to one’s lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer’s are understudied in individuals of diverse ethno-racial origin. 

Dr. Maison Abu Raya and colleagues propose an initial study that will identify the factors that contribute to Alzheimer’s risk across the diverse population of older adults in Israel.

Research Plan

Dr. Abu Raya and colleagues will recruit 20 individuals with Alzheimer’s and 10 cognitively unimpaired individuals from each of the following Israeli ethno-racial groups: Ashkenazi Jews, Sephardic Jews, and Arabs. The researchers will first perform cognitive assessments and collect blood samples as well as perform brain imaging on each individual. Then the team will identify if there are differences in plasma tau (tau accumulation is one of the hallmark brain changes in Alzheimer’s that can be detected by a blood test for early diagnosis) between each ethno-racial group. They will also examine the clinical and demographic factors that may contribute to differences in plasma tau between individuals of each ethno-racial background. Lastly, Dr. Abu Raya and the team will investigate the relationship between plasma tau levels, cognitive function, and brain changes for each participant.


The study results could provide insights into the underlying factors that may be associated with Alzheimer’s risk across individuals from diverse ethno-racial backgrounds. The findings may ultimately give rise to interventions to address health disparities by targeting modifiable risk factors within ethno-racial groups.

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