Partnership Addresses the Growing Alzheimer’s Epidemic in Africa


  • Research Will Produce Digital Cognitive Assessments and Collect Blood Samples for Gene Sequencing Models 
  • Clinical Trial Will Conduct Late-Stage Potential Treatment for Alzheimer’s
  • Builds on AKU’s Brain and Mind Institute to Develop Integrated Brain Health Frameworks

The Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative (DAC), the organization leading an unprecedented global response to Alzheimer’s disease, today announced a partnership with the Brain & Mind Institute at Aga Khan University (AKU) in Kenya, East Africa to launch a two-part research program for Alzheimer’s: a cohort research study, and a clinical trial. Both will address the longstanding lack of diversity in Alzheimer’s research, aim to improve care, and increase access to future innovative treatments throughout Africa.

 To date, nearly all studies of Alzheimer’s disease have been conducted on white populations of Western European origin, meaning that 90 percent of the world’s population has been left out.[1] The Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative is responding to this lack of diversity by building a cohort of one million people, to date, 30 cohorts from 23 countries within North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and with this new partnership with the Brain & Mind Institute (BMI), AKU, Africa.

 The partnership with the BMI/AKU is a trailblazing collaboration to fundamentally rethink Alzheimer’s data collection and analysis. Because the research will be open source, it will help scientists and researchers worldwide gain a better understanding of Alzheimer’s in vulnerable and underserved populations; which in turn, can accelerate the development of new treatments reflecting a precision medicine approach. 

 “To make progress on Alzheimer’s Disease, it is essential that research include all races and ethnicities, especially diverse populations who have been left out of previous research efforts,” said George Vradenburg, Founding Chairman of the Board, Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative, and Convener, The Global CEO Initiative on Alzheimer’s Disease. This partnership with the Brain and Mind Institute/Aga Khan University will build knowledge across racial, ethnic, gender, and national boundaries which will lay the foundation for new breakthroughs.”

 DAC and BMI will use local networks and on-the-ground healthcare providers to collect blood and conduct digital cognitive assessments, which are critical to identifying biomarkers that may indicate the presence of Alzheimer’s disease. 

 “We are excited to partner on this cutting-edge study to broaden our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Zul Merali, Founding Director of the Brain and Mind Institute, AKU. “This work comes at a critical time as the entire continent of Africa is grappling with issues of healthy aging and ill health, particularly pertaining to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.”

 DAC is transforming research in Alzheimer’s, working with researchers to make sure they have tools and technology to gather data, then pooling this information so the global scientific community can understand the heterogeneity of Alzheimer’s disease. The DAC/AKU partnership will play a key role in shaping a future of accessible, globally competent Alzheimer’s treatment. 

 About the Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative

Launched at the World Economic Forum’s 2021 meeting on The Davos Agenda, The Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative is a multi-stakeholder partnership committed to aligning stakeholders with a new vision for our collective global response against the challenges Alzheimer’s presents to patients, caregivers and healthcare infrastructures. Convened by The World Economic Forum and The Global CEO Initiative on Alzheimer’s Disease (CEOi) and fueled by a mission of service to the estimated 150 million families and half a billion people inevitably impacted by this disease by 2050, DAC is a collaborative for the benefit of all people, in all places.

 About the Brain and Mind Institute, AKU

The Brain and Mind Institute (BMI) at the Aga Khan University, operates in East Africa and Central/South Asia.  BMI’s ethos is to span from neuron to the neighborhood, and across multi-country campuses.  The operational model is to empower and strengthen neuroscience and mental health research and interventions through capacity building and partnerships; connecting the rich tapestry of academics, research entities, stakeholders, and communities of lived experience.  BMI facilitates interdisciplinary research, education and innovation in mental health and neurosciences. Through transdisciplinary research approaches, BMI aims to impact the lives of people who are affected by debilitating neurological and mental health problems. Whether it is uncovering the causes of illness or advancing breakthrough research into treatments or interventions, BMI’s approach is always mindful of the local needs of the people and communities at risk. 


[1] https://www.davosalzheimerscollaborative.org/cohorts