Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation Announces First Private Alzheimer’s Clinical Research Site in Region with Highest Prevalence of Disease

Alzheimer’s World Directs Eyes on the Rio Grande Valley as Acclaimed Family Physician Opens New Facility in Rio Grande City with Highest Alzheimer’s Rate in the Country

The Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation® (GAP) and Dr. Antonio Falcon celebrated the opening of El Faro Health & Therapeutics in Rio Grande City, TX on Saturday, marking a historic day for South Texas and the medical research community across the nation. This groundbreaking initiative is the first private clinical research site in Starr County, which has the highest prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in the country. El Faro will bring new Alzheimer’s treatments, resources, and research opportunities to the region with the specific goal of increasing Hispanic participation in clinical trials. The first study to be conducted at El Faro will be GAP’s groundbreaking Bio-Hermes Study, which has made a landmark commitment to enroll at least 20% Black and Hispanic participants.

Starr County – which is 97% Hispanic – has the highest prevalence of Alzheimer’s in the country at nearly 23%. Nationally, Hispanics are 1.5x more likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias but are also less likely to be diagnosed due to misdiagnosis, lack of accessibility, language barriers, and certain health factors. As a result, Hispanics are often diagnosed later in the disease progression, with fewer options for treatment and research.“

El Faro Health & Therapeutics will improve access to Alzheimer’s research and care for people in the Rio Grande Valley and has the potential to alter the course of clinical trial design industry wide,” said Dr. Antonio Falcon, founder of El Faro Health & Therapeutics. “The Alzheimer’s public health crisis happening in Starr County and in Hispanic communities across the nation highlights why we need to direct our attention to providing clinical trials directly in underrepresented communities.”

El Faro is the latest enterprise of local renowned family physician Dr. Antonio Falcon, who decided to establish a research and care site in his native Rio Grande City to increase clinical trial participation in the region El Faro joins the Global Alzheimer’s PlatformFoundation’s network of clinical trial sites (GAP-NET) with access to resources and innovation to achieve faster, more conclusive clinical trials.

“El Faro will be a case study in how to bring complex clinical trials and resources to underserved, rural communities,” said John Dwyer, President of GAP. “In bringing Bio-Hermes to Rio Grande City, we are demonstrating to the world that it is possible to achieve true equity in Alzheimer’s research with collaboration from local leaders and communities.”

About the Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation® (GAP) – The Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation® (GAP) is a person-centric nonprofit dedicated to accelerating the delivery of innovative therapies for neurological disorders by reducing the duration and cost of clinical trials.Research centers across the US, Canada, and Europe are part of the growing GAP Network (GAP-Net). GAP supports GAP-Net research centers by assisting with study start up and recruitment activities, promoting diversity in research studies, and offering international clinical trial infrastructure, resources, and programs that champion brain health and the citizen scientists who make research possible.

About El Faro Health and Therapeutics – El Faro Health and Therapeutics is a clinical research site primarily engaged in Alzheimer’s disease research and treatment. It is the first private clinical research site in Starr County, TX, the county with the highest Alzheimer’s prevalence in the nation. El Faro is affiliated with the Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation Network (GAP-NET) with access to international clinical trial infrastructure and innovations in the research field.

Dr. Antonio Falcon is an esteemed and admired health care provider in his native Rio Grande City and across the U.S. – with more than 44 years of experience as a family physician treating a myriad of diseases, including dementia and Alzheimer’s. He was a member of the United States-Mexico Border Health Commission, a Commissioner for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, and a Board Member for the Texas Medical Foundation Institute for Health Quality. He was named Family Physician of the Year by the Texas Academy of Family Physicians in 2015. He also was recently appointed as a trustee to the Baylor College of Medicine, his alma mater. Dr. Antonio Falcon will lead El Faro with his son Dr. James Falcon, a physician in Texas who served as an emergency medical physician in the United States Army – both domestically and while deployed to combat zones.

Originally posted in the Starr County Town Crier on November 17, 2021.

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