The nation’s first African-American Neuroscience Research Initiative, aimed at ensuring that genomic research and neuroscience studies are representative of individuals across all populations including African ancestry, launched today. This new enterprise partners the African-American Clergy Medical Research Initiative, comprised of prominent clergy leaders of the Minister’s Conference of Baltimore, with the Lieber Institute for Brain Development, an independent, not-for-profit medical research institute working to develop new treatments for brain disorders.
The African-American Neuroscience Research Initiative aims to establish a road map to help close the gap in health disparities and accelerate research efforts that will lead to new treatments for brain disorders.
Research has long been hampered by a lack of diversity in basic science and in clinical trials, particularly in the field of neuroscience. For example, 81 percent of large-scale genomic datasets are of European descent, even though this group makes up less than 16% of the world population. What science has now shown us is there are genetic differences among races and ethnicity. Genomic research has the potential to provide some of the most personalized and effective medical treatments for many medical disorders, including: heart disease, stroke, asthma, diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease, and schizophrenia. However, minority groups are inadequately represented in these large-scale genomic studies.