ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR) and the Wayne State University Institute of Gerontology have won a $2.7 million grant renewal from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue the work of the Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research through 2017.
The Michigan Center is one of only seven across the country established to improve the health of older minorities through education, scholarship and outreach.
Center faculty investigate why older urban minorities suffer from poorer health than their Caucasian counterparts, and mentor junior minority scholars to encourage high quality research into issues affecting aging and ethnicity.
The Center provides free health screenings and community forums to educate more than 1,000 older minority members each year about preventing diseases that are prevalent in certain ethnic groups. It also maintains a database of older Detroit-area African Americans who are willing to volunteer for research projects. This pool of volunteers is highly valuable to researchers since African Americans and other minority groups have traditionally been underrepresented in research.
James Jackson, director of ISR and the Daniel Katz Distinguished University Professor of Psychology at UM, is principal investigator of the Center. Peter Lichtenberg, director of the WSU Institute of Gerontology is co-director of the Center’s administrative core.
“We take great pride in the accomplishments of our Michigan Center,” said Jackson. “To date, 47 minority scholars have completed our program. More than two-thirds of these researchers have received grant funding, many of them as principal investigators on NIH grants. They are working hard to address the health disparities that plague our African American elders.”
African Americans have significantly higher rates than their Caucasian counterparts of diabetes, stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure and certain cancers as they age. Research is focused on why this disparity occurs and methods for reversing it. “For 15 years, we have partnered with older adults to promote healthier aging,” Lichtenberg said. “With this grant, we continue strengthening scholarship and focusing on the health and education needs of Detroit’s elders. It takes time to make a difference that will last.”