Family history led to Rochelle Long’s commitment to ending racial disparities in Alzheimer’s research
Research volunteer Rochelle Long of Shaker Heights, OH is being honored today with the National Citizen Scientist Cornerstone Award, presented by the Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation
® (GAP) at the Trish Vradenburg Dinner at the National Alzheimer’s Summit in Washington, DC.
Rochelle is a seven-time research volunteer at the Brain Health and Memory Center in the Neurological Institute at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center
and a long-time advocate for recruiting African Americans in Cleveland to participate in Alzheimer’s research. Alzheimer’s disease is a national public health crisis affecting 5.8 million Americans, including 220,000 Ohioans.
“Alzheimer’s hits African Americans harder than any other group,” Long said. “After seeing the toll this disease took on my mother and aunt, I couldn’t wait to join a study once I qualified. I encourage others to join me—it’s the only way we will find a cure that works for all people, no matter the color of their skin.”
Ninety percent of Alzheimer’s studies are delayed due to insufficient recruitment, making research participants the key to finding a cure. African Americans are twice as likely as white Americans to have Alzheimer’s but are underrepresented in clinical research.
“For 17 years, Rochelle has spent nearly every day off work supporting studies through community outreach, attending appointments for the seven studies for which she has volunteered, or caring for family members who have the disease,” said GAP President John Dwyer. “Her level of commitment is commensurate with the threat this disease poses to our country, and particularly the African American community.”
The National Citizen Scientist Cornerstone Award honors an Alzheimer’s clinical trial participant who has personally made extraordinary efforts to support local research and participate in a trial. As a research study partner and caregiver for her mother, as a trial participant, and as a member of the University Hospitals Minority Outreach Board, Long has continuously carried the message of Alzheimer’s research to the Cleveland African American community. In the latter capacity, she speaks at community events about the challenges of caregiving and builds bridges between researchers and community leaders.
“Outreach to minority communities isn’t an add-on to our program; it’s at the core of what we do,” said Dr. Alan Lerner, Director of the Brain Health & Memory Center at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. “Rochelle knows we can’t find a cure that works for all unless we draw from a diverse pool of research volunteers.”
The National Citizen Scientist Awards are supported by Janssen Research & Development, LLC and the Vradenburg Foundation.
To learn more about the National Citizen Scientist Award program and honorees, please visit globalalzplatform.org/awards