The University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus – Memory Keepers-Medical Discovery Team (MK-MDT), has been awarded over $1.5 million for two years in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding through the National Institute on Aging (NIA) for their grant entitled, “Indigenous Cultural Understandings of Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias - Research and Engagement (I-CARE).” This grant represents an MK-MDT collaborative effort involving all current MK-MDT investigators, Drs. Kristen Jacklin (PI), Wayne Warry, Neil Henderson, and Jim Allen.

This is the first NIH grant for both the MK-MDT and Dr. Jacklin, who was recruited to Minnesota from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine in 2017. Dr. Jacklin came to the MK-MDT with an extensive Canadian research portfolio focused on health equity in Indigenous health that spans chronic disease care for Indigenous peoples, age-related dementias, diabetes, cultural safety, and Indigenous health curriculum and education.

The two-year grant will support community engagement and pilot research to develop a robust program of research focused on improving the lives of Indigenous persons with dementia and their families. To do this, Memory Keepers researchers have partnered with the Minnesota Chippewa Giiwedinong Northland Committee, Dr. Carey Gleason from the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Oneida National Commission on Aging, NAANDWECHIGE-GAMIG Wikwemikong Health Centre, Ontario, and Dr. Jennifer Walker from Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario.

“Our overarching hypothesis is that Indigenous cultural understandings of dementia along with community-specific circumstances shape the dementia illness experience significantly enough to create distinct impacts in Indigenous communities, warranting culturally tailored approaches to diagnosis and care,” Dr. Jacklin added.