The Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI), the Alzheimer’s Association, and Alzheimer’s Society (UK) aim to support emerging leaders in brain health, aging, and dementia by funding small-scale pilot projects, activities, and/or studies to advance skills, knowledge, activities, and general efforts to delay, prevent and/or mitigate the impact of dementia. The goal of these awards is to both support leadership development of the awardee and to advance pilot projects that improve outcomes in brain health. The program prioritizes activities that demonstrate the potential to evolve into larger regional projects, especially those that use an evidence-based approach to identify, direct change and/or improve care for those with dementia.
Dementia is a pressing global health issue. These pilot projects are important as a first step to advance scientific knowledge in the effort to delay or prevent Alzheimer’s and other dementia, as well as to improve care and quality of life for persons living with the disease.
In the first three years of the Pilot Awards Program, 65 pilots across 24 countries and regions — including Argentina, Botswana, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Egypt, France, Greece, Hong Kong, Jordan, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Peru, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, UK (including Northern Ireland), USA — have been awarded a total of $1.6 million.
Funded pilot projects range from advocacy to systems change to applied research and are addressing challenges with access to care, stigma, social determinants of brain health, education, and more.
Pilot awardees have secured a total of $18.7 million in funding, with $1.4 million in leveraged funding directly expanding and supporting their pilots. Early indicators of impact and success also include 17 publications in leading journals, 42 presentations at 28 distinct conferences, with 8 pilots receiving media coverage from 23 diverse media outlets.
Alzheimer’s Disease Prediction Service: a Computational Biomarker
The objective of this study is to establish the ground truth for an innovative computational biomarker. Results showed improvements in the provision of appropriate information to patients, user satisfaction, the physical activity space, and social interactions of people with dementia risk, and decreases in the caregiver burden and primary care visits as well as better adherence to cognitive stimulation and physical activity.
Multimodal Intergenerational Social Contact Intervention (MISCI)
Loneliness and social isolation in an aging population could constitute risk factors for developing dementia. This pilot program addresses this issue using a primary risk reduction strategy called MISCI to match older at-risk adults with adolescents and young adults. Over several months, the groups collaborate to create an art project, culminating with a community showcase. MISCI, launched as a pilot study in 2019, is now a San Francisco City-supported initiative.
Basic Literacy, Memory and Brain Connectivity
Resende’s project explores the effect of basic literacy acquired later in life on improving brain connectivity and memory. Preliminary results show that education modulates the relationship between memory and a region of the brain. She is providing scientific evidence that it is never too late to engage in intellectually stimulating activities and promote brain health in vulnerable populations. Resende’s pilot study has been featured in various media, including Otempo, a popular Brazilian newspaper.