Equity Award Commits to Serving Diverse Older Adults
Cognitive performance is influenced by race, ethnicity, and culture, yet clinical tools used to assess brain health do not always consider these important factors.
On January 31, the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine announced Elena Tsoy, Assistant Professor at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center and GBHI faculty member, as a winner of the 2023 Population Health and (Brain) Health Equity Award.
This is the fifth annual Equity Award, totaling an investment of 100,000 USD at the UCSF Department of Neurology to directly support research impacting communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Previous projects have focused on issues of homelessness, dementia assessment, socioeconomic status, underrepresented populations, and diversity in neurodegenerative research.
I hope this project will further our knowledge of cross-cultural differences in cognitive performance and inform development of optimal neuropsychological batteries for assessment of culturally diverse individuals.
—Elena Tsoy, GBHI Faculty Member
Tsoy’s project, "Psychometric and Ecological Validity of Neuropsychological Assessment in Diverse Older Adults," aims to validate widely used measures to test cognitive health in diverse populations, which is key for improving person-centered care and reducing disparities in dementia diagnoses. In essence, this validation approach is necessary to empower clinicians to determine whether neuropsychological test scores accurately estimate the actual underlying cognitive abilities across diverse groups.
“I hope this project will further our knowledge of cross-cultural differences in cognitive performance and inform development of optimal neuropsychological batteries for assessment of culturally diverse individuals,” said Tsoy.
Neuropsychological testing is critical for identifying neurodegenerative disease. As research suggests that cognitive performance is influenced by race, ethnicity, and culture, minimizing bias related to these factors is essential for making accurate diagnoses.
“This project stems from my primary goal as a clinical scientist to advance culturally fair dementia diagnostic care in diverse older adults, thereby laying the foundation for equity-based therapeutic and diagnostic practices,” said Tsoy.
The findings of this work will contribute to initiatives underway by faculty and Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Brain Health on the development and validation of cognitive assessment tools that are critically needed across cultures and geographies.
“Culturally sensitive research projects such as Dr. Tsoy’s are critically important to achieving our mission of global brain health equity,” said Victor Valcour, Site Director, GBHI, UCSF.
Sponsored by GBHI, the Equity Award aims to support a faculty member’s research or programming related to population health and (brain) health equity. In addition to funds of 20,000 USD, Tsoy will join a group of scholars across UCSF to share experiences and achievements in this space.
The Equity Award is coordinated with the Population Health and Health Equity Scholars Award presented by UCSF’s Vice Dean for Population Health and Health Equity, Alicia Fernández, and the Dean of the School of Medicine, Talmadge King. The award is representative of GBHI’s continued commitment to equity. It is intended to catalyze innovative research and the implementation of projects related to brain health and underserved communities.
View a video recording of the GBHI Population Health & Brain Health Equity Scholars Lecture, featuring Elena Tsoy and other awardees, from April 4, 2023.