In a collaborative project with laboratories at Vanderbilt, Fisk and Meharry Medical School, we are working on a project to investigate the role of African American variants of ABCA7 in increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia and is progressive disease that leads to cognitive decline and for which there is no cure. African Americans have double the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease when compared to Americans of European descent, but we don’t currently understand the mechanisms for development of the disease that cause this increase in occurrence. Genetic screening has indicated that mutations in the ATP-binding cassette gene, ABCA7, are the strongest indicator for disease development in African Americans, so we are working to investigate the role of ABCA7 variants on the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
This project, which includes structural biology, microscopy, and translational teams, will attempt not only to combine our expertise toward an increased understanding the role that ABCA7 plays Alzheimer’s, but also aims to involve leaders within the African American community in the decision-making process. We are working to develop a Community Action Board to promote science education and ensure that everyone understands the proposed project at all stages.