"Some of the participants we train will be clinicians and some will be public health scholars. All will share the goal of scientifically improving the care of persons with ADRD," explains co–principal investigator Dr. Richard Holden.
Holden, a dean’s eminent scholar and professor at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington, is chair of the SPH-B Department of Health & Wellness Design. He also serves as a research scientist with the Indiana University Center for Aging Research at the Regenstrief Institute.
While more than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease today, experts anticipate that this number will grow to about 14 million people by 2050. This, according to Claire Pomeroy, M.D. (president of the Lasker Foundation and member of the SPH-B Dean's Alliance), is why "innovative approaches to training physicians and public health experts are urgently needed." She adds, "This grant is an important step forward in meeting this challenge, and an inspiring example of IU's work to serve communities locally and across the nation."
A total of five cohorts from across the U.S. will participate in year-long training sessions. "We will train them on behavioral economics and how to nudge behavior for people and organizations," Holden explains. "And we will train them to do this using an Agile project management approach. And for each cohort, we will mentor participants as they apply nudges to dementia interventions in their local settings."
The Agile Nudge University Program is the first such large-scale collaboration between IUSPH-B and the IU School of Medicine. "The effort to improve the health of individuals and communities requires an integration between the School of Medicine—which focuses on the health of an individual—and the School of Public Health—which focuses on the health of communities," says co–principal investigator and IU School of Medicine Professor Malaz Boustani. "In Alzheimer's disease in particular, that type of integration is very important to train a second generation of Agile scientists focusing on brain health."
Additional collaborators include SPH-B's Dr. Arthur Owora and ADRD professionals from outside of Indiana University.
"We're training leadership skills and we're delivering materials and methods that cohort participants can take with them," Holden says. "The expectation is they will in turn train the next generation of Agile Nudge scientists who will change care for Alzheimer’s disease."
"This is highly innovative and very important work that uses a promising set of approaches, and is a type of intervention that, to date, has not received the attention it deserves," he continues. "I congratulate the team on being awarded funding for this important research."