KU Alzheimer’s Disease Center Team Earns Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award

GAP-Net Site, the University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Center’s (KU ADC) Outreach, Recruitment and Education Core earned the 2020 University of Kansas Medical Center Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award.

The University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Center’s Outreach, Recruitment and Education Core earned the 2020 University of Kansas Medical Center Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award.

Presented by the KU Medical Center Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the annual honor highlights the significant achievements of faculty, staff, departments and organizations working to develop and enhance a more culturally diverse, competent and inclusive university community.

The ORE Core was recognized during a virtual ceremony April 30 for its efforts throughout the region to promote awareness and understanding of Alzheimer’s disease within local communities that have encountered barriers to access, including Latinos, African Americans and rural residents.

“The group award goes to the KU ADC ORE Core team. This diverse team of researchers and staff make intentional efforts to examine Alzheimer’s disease in the African American and Latino communities. They are another example of a team that goes above and beyond the normal role to contribute to diversity, equity and inclusion efforts,” Jerrihlyn McGee, DNP, vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion at KU Medical Center, said during the ceremony. “We want to congratulate all the nominees for their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion on all of our campuses. Your work helps the organization to achieve its mission,”

A team effort

“The team I work with really believes in some core values of respect, acceptance, empowerment and providing value to the community. Thank you to the ORE Core team, but it’s really the whole ADC team that makes this attempt at a more welcoming and inclusive environment,” said Eric Vidoni, Ph.D., director of the ORE Core at the KU ADC.

During his remarks, Vidoni acknowledged the strong leadership of Jeffrey Burns, M.D., and Russell Swerdlow, M.D., co-directors of the KU ADC, and recognized the center’s community partners, including OCCK of Salina, Jewish Family Services, KC Cares, Eitas of Jackson County, Johnson County Developmental Disabilities, Barton County Health, Wyandotte County Area Agency on Aging, Black Health Care Coalition, Latinos Against Alzheimer’s and African AmericansAgainstAlzheimer’s (networks of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s).

“Latino/as and African Americans have higher risks of Alzheimer’s disease but are too often excluded in research or clinical trials, and our collaboration with the University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Center has been critical to advancing the field of health equity in Alzheimer’s research,” said Jason Resendez, chief of staff of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, a partner of the KU ADC and a co-convener of the Kansas City Alzheimer’s Disease Disparities Engagement Network. “We are proud to call the KU ADC, Guadalupe Centers, El Centro, Don Bosco, Mattie Rhodes Center, and Swope Health partners in the fight to effectively treat, prevent and ultimately stop Alzheimer’s.”

Blending science and diversity

The ORE Core promotes successful brain aging through research and education by connecting the public, healthcare professionals, trainees and investigators. Its programs and research strategies blend high-quality scientific exploration and diversity and inclusion. The team has partnered with both national and local community groups serving predominantly ethnic and racial minorities, helping to ensure the profile of KU ADC’s main pool of research volunteers reflects the diversity of the Kansas City area.

Through its participation in the Black Health Care Coalition Advisory Board, the ORE Core helped create a culturally tailored dementia-education theater play that reached 500 African Americans. Meanwhile, the team is partnering with primary care practices across Kansas and Missouri to improve dementia care, with a strong focus on rural regions.

“It is humbling to receive this award and I would like to recognize the ORE Core director Dr. Eric Vidoni for his leadership and commitment to promoting and enhancing diversity in the research field,” said Ashley Shaw, Ph.D., MPH, a postdoctoral fellow at the KU ADC. “The ADC is committed to values of diversity, inclusion, and multiculturalism through recruitment, culturally tailored community education, publications and Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia research activities.”

The team supports the diversification of dementia researchers by mentoring trainees, including women and underrepresented minorities, at different career levels through the Kansas Dementia & Aging Research Training pipeline. Additionally, the ORE Core has led national initiatives such as expanding the capacity to capture Spanish-language clinical evaluation data for all 32 National Institutes of Aging-designated Alzheimer’s Disease Centers. Core team members also have served on national advisory committees for the advancement of research in racial, ethnic and sexual minorities.

“Diversity and inclusion matters, and we are proud to be in the front line of these efforts,” said Jaime Perales, Ph.D., assistant professor at the KU ADC. “It is a huge honor to receive the KU Medical Center Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award, which acknowledges our efforts.”

The award

The KU Medical Center Diversity, Equity and Inclusion award is presented each spring to an individual and a group. This year’s individual award winner was Ryan Gove, M.S., director of student life, academic and student affairs.

For more information about the award or to view a recording of this year’s virtual ceremony, visit the KU Medical Center’s diversity website.

About the KU ADC

The KU ADC is one of 32 National Institutes of Health-designated Alzheimer’s Disease Centers in the nation. It researches the treatment and cure of dementias, with a focus on how lifestyle factors such as fitness and physical activity influence normal aging and Alzheimer’s disease. To learn more about the KU ADC, visit its website.

Originally posted by The University of Kansas KU Medical Center on May 14, 2020.

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