July 9, 1991
On this day, Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Louis W. Sullivan announced a study of the environmental factors that may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. The study was to be based at the Indiana University Medical Center at IUPUI and the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. Both schools were awarded approximately $2.7 million for a four-year, two-site study on the prevalence and risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease. Indianapolis was the only site in the United States to participate in the study.
The researchers were particularly interested in the environmental factors that they suspected played a role in the onset and progression of the neurological disease, which affects many millions of people worldwide. To test their theories, researchers studied members of the Indianapolis African American community and individuals living in Nigeria. Dr. Hugh Hendrie, the US principal investigator and chairman of the Department of Psychiatry in the IU School of Medicine, argued that the two-site study afforded researchers the opportunity to study theories previously left unexplored by other researchers.
“The great majority of previous studies have been conducted in industrialized countries with highly sophisticated social and health care systems,” Hendrie told the press at the time. “We hope that some risk factors, which are ubiquitous to Westernized societies, will become obvious when compared with very different societal and cultural environments.”
Also in 1991, the IU School of Medicine established the Indiana Alzheimer’s Disease Center, one of 32 centers in the United States that was committed to Alzheimer’s research.
Currently, the Indiana Alzheimer’s Disease Center continues its work studying risk factors of the disease, identifying the genes associated with it, and developing techniques to detect and treat the disease.
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