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Wabanaki Public Health and Wellness will use $4.5M grant to study Alzheimer's disease

William Burke
Matt York
FILE - In this Aug. 14, 2018 file photo, Dr. William Burke goes over a PET brain scan at Banner Alzheimers Institute in Phoenix. The drug company Biogen Inc. says it will seek federal approval for a medicine to treat early Alzheimer's disease, a landmark step toward finding a treatment that can alter the course of the most common form of dementia. The announcement Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, is a surprise because the company earlier this year stopped two studies of the drug, called aducanumab, after partial results suggested it was not working.

Wabanaki Public Health and Wellness is using a $4.5 million grant to study the effects of Alzheimer's disease and other brain disorders on older tribal citizens.

The organization says it will focus on brain and cognitive health in tribal elders, who are important sources of indigenous knowledge and culture.

Under the grant, researchers plan to test the effectiveness of current screening tools for Alzheimer's and explore ways that those tests could be more effective in assessing tribal elders.

Lisa Sockabasin, the co-CEO of Wabanaki Public Health, said often times, research hasn't been done in collaboration with indigenous communities, but is instead performed on them. She said this project will include tribal citizens in the research process, and has even created internships for Native students to work in health and wellness.

"Those are the areas that we believe are important an essential in furthering the opportunities for wellness within our Wabanaki nations here in Maine," Sockabasin said.

The grant comes from the National Institutes of Health and runs through 2025.