Healthy Minds Initiative receive National Academy of Medicine award for work on brain health in African American faith-based organizations

The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) have awarded Healthy Minds Initiative a 2021 Healthy Longevity Catalyst Award for our work researching community brain health in African American faith-based organizations.

These awards are part of the Healthy Longevity Global Competition, an international competition helping push breakthroughs in improving human health later in life.

More than 1,000 innovators applied in 2021. NAM and their network of global collaborators selected 25 submissions to receive the Catalyst Awards, along with 50,000 USD in seed funding. Healthy Minds Initiative were one of them.

We couldn’t be more proud of our vitally important work. Alzheimer’s disease is the fastest-growing epidemic in the United States and, though the disease has affected every family, certain communities are disproportionately affected.

The Black community and women have twice the risk of developing the disease. To date, we have no treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, but there is now consensus that lifestyle intervention is very effective in preventing it.

In the Black population, given that poor environmental and lifestyle-related factors are core contributors to the heightened risk, making key lifestyle information more readily-available will have a profoundly positive effect.

But, as existing literature has revealed, only when using traditional venues of care — such as faith-based communities — and circumventing the usual limitations of access through novel technology and modern forms of clear communication can we make meaningful lifestyle changes that can reduce the burden of this terrible disease, and create sustainable structures and systems.

Our approach at Healthy Minds Initiative is based on a three-pronged process based on use of traditional community structures (faith communities), community women trainers, and technology and telecommunication to overcome common impediments to change and adherence, creating opportunities for sustained change with women at the lead.

This award has helped us establish a partnership with faith-based organization Crenshaw Christian Center (CCC), with whom we’re working on one of the most important and innovative brain health research programmes in the United States. Find out more about the HMI × CCC project →