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 AHCA-Backed Program at Brown Wins $53.4 Million Dementia Grant

Brown University School of Public Health’s Center for Long-Term Care Quality and Innovation won a $53.4 million five-year grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) in tandem with Boston-based Hebrew SeniorLife (HSL) to lead a national effort to improve health care and quality of life for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and for their caregivers.

The Quality and Innovation Center originated with a gift from the American Health Care Association (AHCA), and the association’s involvement is ongoing, including collaboration to identify priority areas for research, seek innovative practices to test, and recruit sites to participate in projects once funded, according to Rosa Baier, associate director of the center.

Three prior AHCA board chairs serve on the center’s Advisory Council, and specific to this new NIA grant, David Gifford, MD, senior vice president of quality and regulatory affairs at AHCA, will chair a Health Systems Council that will be responsible, in part, for serving as a liaison to AHCA members and representing industry views, she says.

For the new grant, NIA said that together the center and HSL will create a massive collaborative research incubator to develop trials aimed at evaluating interventions for Alzheimer’s disease or Alzheimer’s-related dementia (AD/ADRD).

“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, 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 grant from NIA, one of 27 institutes and centers of the National Institutes for Health, will support the incubator for the next five years. For Providence, R.I.-based Brown, the grant marks the largest federal award in university history. Brown was founded in 1764.

The research incubator, which is named the NIA Imbedded Pragmatic AD/ADRD Clinical Trials (IMPACT) Collaboratory, will take on two primary objectives through eight working groups comprising experts from more than 30 top research institutions.

NIA said the first objective is to fund and provide expert assistance to up to 40 pilot trials that will test non-drug, care-based interventions for people living with dementia. The second goal is to develop best practices for implementing and evaluating interventions for Alzheimer’s and dementia care and share them with the research community at large.

The 40 pilots will be embedded in real-world health care systems and generate the necessary data to inform larger, definitive trials supported with federal funding, NIA said.

The council said 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, and dissemination of results and efforts to maximize the likelihood of implementation, among other issues.

Mor said that the $53.4 million grant is one among many examples of how NIA is supporting research in recognition of the urgent and growing public health need to better care for the millions of American families who face Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

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 United States alone.

For more information, visit brown.edu/go/innovation or follow the center on Twitter @LTC_Innovation.

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