NYU Meyers to oversee pilot core of $53 million Alzheimer’s and dementia research incubator

September 19, 2019

NIH-funded “collaboratory,” led by Brown and Hebrew SeniorLife, to test “real-world” interventions

The National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes for Health, has awarded a five-year grant expected to total $53.4 million to Brown University and Hebrew SeniorLife (HSL) to lead a nationwide effort to improve healthcare and quality of life for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, as well as their caregivers. The institutions—together with collaborators across the country, including researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing—will create a massive research incubator to develop trials aimed at evaluating interventions for Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that while more than 5 million Americans currently live with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, the number is expected to double by 2050. The current annual cost of dementia care exceeds $226 million a year in the U.S. alone.

A primary objective of the incubator—called the NIA Imbedded Pragmatic AD/ADRD Clinical Trials (IMPACT) Collaboratory—is to fund and provide expert assistance for up to 40 pilot trials that will test non-drug, “real-world,” care-based interventions for people living with dementia. Ab Brody, PhD, RN, FAAN, FPCN, associate professor at NYU Meyers and associate director of the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing, will lead the NIA IMPACT Collaboratory’s Pilot Core. The Pilot Core will receive roughly $10.3 million of the estimated $53.4 million NIA grant over five years.

The Pilot Core will solicit and fund the 40 pilot trials, all embedded in real-world healthcare settings, and will guide all aspects of these studies throughout their lifecycles. The pilot projects will generate the necessary data to inform larger, definitive trials supported with federal and other sources of funding, the researchers said. Later in the project, pilots selected through the program will present at the IMPACT Collaboratory's annual scientific conference to share results and lessons learned, further enriching the field.

“The lack of research testing interventions for patients with dementia and their caregivers in real-world settings hinders the ability of healthcare systems and social services organizations to adequately care for this large, vulnerable population,” said Brody. “The NIA IMPACT Collaboratory Pilot Core will assist researchers in investigating practical interventions that can be implemented in these settings.”

“These pilot projects will seed full-scale studies aimed at both improving the quality of life and health outcomes of people with dementia and reducing the immense stress and health effects that caring for this population has on family and professional caregivers. It will also foster the expertise and career growth of researchers in Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders, enhancing the nation’s capacity to conduct clinical research on aging,” added Brody.

Projects will benefit from guidance from the collaboratory’s community of experts, who will assist with ethical concerns (such as how to secure informed consent from people living with dementia); technical support and generation of data on participant populations; statistics and project design; advice on how to measure patient- and caregiver-reported outcomes; dissemination of results and efforts to maximize the likelihood of implementation; partnering with healthcare systems interested in conducting trials; project administration; training for early career researchers; inclusion of and applicability to people of all backgrounds and cultures; and best practices to engage people interested in this work, including people living with dementia and their caregivers, healthcare systems, and researchers.

“This grant will revolutionize the national infrastructure for research into how care is delivered to people living with dementia and their caregivers,” said Vincent Mor, PhD, co-leader of the collaboration and a professor of health services, policy and practice at Brown’s School of Public Health. “The key is figuring out how to take an idea that worked in an ideal situation and adapt it so it can be piloted in the messy real-world system of care providers that exists across the U.S.”

“The NIA IMPACT Collaboratory will transform the delivery, quality and outcomes of care provided to Americans with dementia and their caregivers by accelerating the testing and adoption of evidence-based interventions within health care systems,” said Susan Mitchell, MD, MPH, co-leader of the collaboration, senior scientist at HSL’s Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The work is supported by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under Award No. U54AG063546.