John A. Burns School of Medicine Partners with Washington State University to Address Dementia in Indigenous Hawaiian and Pacific Island Communities

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HONOLULU (KHON2) – The National Institute on Aging (NIA) recently awarded a $ 15 million grant to a new project that will benefit Indigenous groups in Hawaii and the Pacific Islands struggling with Alzheimer’s disease and associated dementias.

The project is called Natives Engaged in Alzheimer’s Disease Research (NEAR), led by Washington State University (WSU) and in partnership with the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii. in Manoa. NEAR will also connect 11 tribes, six academic and research institutions, seven urban Indian organizations, and five Hawaiian and Pacific Island indigenous community organizations.

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According to JABSOM, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Native American, and Alaska Native communities are culturally and geographically diverse. However, all suffer from an uneven burden of conditions such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and low socioeconomic status that make dementia more likely.

“We are going back to the traditions of our ancestors to provide the solutions needed to address the most pressing health issues in four communities today,” said Dr Joseph Keawe’aimoku Kaholokula, President and Professor of Native Hawaiian Health at JABSOM, as well as the project manager for this project based in Hawai’i.

Hawaii-based NEAR research project will involve adoption and testing of a lifestyle intervention based on hula practice that has been shown to be effective in improving blood pressure and reducing cardiovascular risk in Hawaiians indigenous.

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The NEAR project hopes that this hula-based intervention will be adapted to treat a wider range of vascular risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease in Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

Although little is known about how Alzheimer’s disease works, JABSOM believes it is crucial to learn how these conditions can be prevented, detected, treated and what role genetic risk factors play.

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