Community Newspapers: Miami Caregiver awarded prestigious honor for volunteerism in Alzheimer’s research

By  Community News Releases  -March 2, 2024

The Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation (GAP) recently recognized Miami resident Joanne Bridges with the 2023 National Citizen Scientist Collaborator Award.

Bridges was selected from a pool of nominees from across North America to receive elevated recognition and be honored for supporting a clinical trial volunteer by serving as a study partner in an Alzheimer’s clinical trial. Serving in the role of caregiver and study partner, Joanne provides unwavering support for her husband, Jerome, as he participates in a clinical trial at a local research site, Visionary Investigators Network.

“I am lovingly and mentally supporting my husband in sharing this episode of his life. I am learning to be a caregiver and joyfully helping him to move forward positively,” Joanne said.

“The most rewarding aspect of supporting a participant in a clinical trial is that I can open the door to hope.

“Participants often have mixed emotions and fear of the unknown. Doing my best, where he knows I am truly in his corner, is a fantastic feeling and makes everything worthwhile,” she said.

In Florida alone, it is estimated that more than 580,000 people are currently living with Alzheimer’s Disease and experts predict that this number will increase to almost 750,000 people by 2025. That is why people like Joanne, who are dedicated caregivers, study partners and advocates for clinical research, are extraordinary in helping the future.

“Volunteering to be a study partner for a clinical trial is a singular display of compassion and generosity. Joanne demonstrates a commitment to advancing the broad patient community by actively participating in the advancement of medical research,” said GAP president John Dwyer.

Currently, there are 6.7 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s Disease and according to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), and that number is expected to nearly triple by 2060.

Treatments and cures for this disease will only be possible through clinical trials, and it is estimated that more than 25,000 volunteers are needed in future years.

“Her decision to stand alongside researchers, lending her time, energy, and personal brand to this work, in honor of her husband, is truly a unique gift.”

“It is wonderful to see Joanne honored with the Collaborator Award. Firstly, she volunteers in the community to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease, and in addition, Joanne has been a dedicated and supportive spouse to her husband,” said Julie Schwartzbard, MD, Visionary Investigators Network. “Furthermore, Joanne has also been an advocate for other caregivers, speaking on their behalf and sharing her experiences to help others in similar situations. This award honors her compassion and empathy for others, and her willingness to use her own experiences to benefit others.”

Joanne’s husband has participated in many Alzheimer’s disease trials and was nominated by Visionary Investigators Network, a GAP-Net research site. GAP-Net is a network of academic and private research sites dedicated to advancing clinical research for neurodegenerative diseases.

Through this network, GAP supports more than 100 research sites in North America and Europe, providing resources, best practices, and strategies to help bring more diversity and innovation to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s clinical research.

“Joanne is one of the sweetest human beings you’ll ever meet. We have known Joanne and Jerome for four years, and she’s absolutely amazing. She puts everybody at ease. There is no discounting a good caregiver, they make the difference. If you have a caregiver like Joanne, it makes our jobs easier. I wish all my caregivers were like Joanne,” said Nicole Goode RN, clinical supervisor at Visionary Investigators Network.

Each year, GAP-Net sites nominate outstanding Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s clinical trial volunteers and study partners from their sites as citizen scientists to recognize the invaluable contributions that volunteers make to research. The honorees represent the wide body of clinical research being done nationwide, and they reflect the different places of the journey where people living with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases may be.

On receiving the Collaborator Award for the exceptional caregiving that she provides for her husband, Joanne said, “It is an honor, and I am very grateful for the recognition. You have got to do whatever you can to help that person function to the best of their ability. It takes care, concern, happiness, love, and forgiveness. And I’m not sitting on the sidelines. I want to help.”

For more information about the Citizen Scientist Awards and to see the other honorees, visit To learn about nearby clinical research studies for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, visit

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