News Release

Case Western Reserve University investigators expand Alzheimer’s research focused on people in the US with African ancestry

Secure multi-million-dollar funding from NIH’s National Institute on Aging

Grant and Award Announcement

Case Western Reserve University

CLEVELAND–Researchers at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, with colleagues from the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics at the University of Miami, Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain, at Columbia University, and Wake Forest University School of Medicine will study the genomics of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in people with African heritage throughout the United States. 

Funding of nearly $3 million from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will include enhanced support for outreach and recruitment in Greater Cleveland, building on existing work to engage African American participants for the study.

“Alzheimer’s disease is a complex condition with genetic as well as environmental and behavioral risk factors that can be informed by socio-economic realities,” said Jonathan Haines, chair of the Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences at the School of Medicine and director of the Cleveland Institute for Computational Biology. “The promise of precision medicine is based in foundational research like this that seeks to deepen our understanding of genetics and the intersection of all these factors.”   

Haines, internationally recognized as a leader in the genetics and genomics of AD, is leading the Case Western Reserve research team. He is joined by Associate Professor William Bush and Professor Scott Williams, both in the Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences.  

As Haines and his colleagues note, most genetic research for AD has focused on non-Hispanic whites of European ancestry. This lack of diversity is problematic, he said, given that African Americans have a higher prevalence of AD than non-Hispanic whites. 

Recent studies from this collaborative team have resulted in novel and nuanced findings about genetic variation linked to risk for AD as well as protection from AD among people with African ancestry. Their research has also uncovered associations between variants implicated in AD and cardiovascular conditions. These studies have involved compiling some of the largest sample sizes ever analyzed from African American and Afro-Caribbean communities, according to Haines.      

“Over the years, our teams have included diverse populations with varying African ancestry to improve disease prediction, diagnosis and treatment,” Haines said. “Our work lays the foundation for precision medicine so all benefit.”  

Grant number:  1R56AG072547-01
Contact:  Paula Darte: or 216.870.6323

About Case Western Reserve University
Case Western Reserve University is one of the country's leading private research institutions. Located in Cleveland, we offer a unique combination of forward-thinking educational opportunities in an inspiring cultural setting. Our leading-edge faculty engage in teaching and research in a collaborative, hands-on environment. Our nationally recognized programs include arts and sciences, dental medicine, engineering, law, management, medicine, nursing, and social work. About 5,100 undergraduate and 6,700 graduate students comprise our student body. Visit to see how Case Western Reserve thinks beyond the possible.

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