Recruitment Accelerator for Diversity in Aging Research, Cognitive Loss & Dementia (RADAR)
SUNY Upstate Medical University in Collaboration with Mount Sinai School of Medicine Funded by the National Institute on Aging
The RADAR project addresses a systemic gap in medical research – the lack of diversity among individuals who participate in clinical trials and other studies. With a focus on cognitive research, the project recognizes that memory loss disproportionately effects African Americans and Latinos (and women especially), but that related studies are based largely on middle aged white males. As such, the relevance of this research in developing treatments that are effective across diverse populations is uncertain.
The National Institute on Aging has identified that it is a national priority to increase the number of individuals in research who are older and from populations traditionally excluded from aging studies. The intent of the RADAR project is to understand and address potential barriers and strategies to support the recruitment and retention of diverse populations in research on cognition impairment.
SUNY Upstate Medical University serves as a partner site for this project, which is led by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Uniquely, the project creates new mechanisms for directly engaging members of the community in the design of studies that will be attractive and feasible for diverse older adults to participate in. A main goal is to implement an “accelerator” model at each site, which engages multiple stakeholders, including the public, in an ongoing committee structure to advise researchers on effective methods for recruiting and retaining diverse participants in specific studies.
The project also creates a novel community-research professional role to be the steward of the accelerator infrastructure. This role is called the Community-Research Liaison (CRL), and its incumbent will be recruited from the community, trained in matters of research, and serve as a bridge between the research community and the individuals who cognitive research is intended to benefit.
RADAR is an example of community-based participatory research (CBPR), which gives community members a voice in the research process, identifies research questions and approaches that are relevant to consumers, addresses health equity, and helps to engage a diverse spectrum of research participants, particularly those who may have traditionally been disenfranchised. SUNY Upstate brings experience in community-engaged research that stems from contracts with the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) since 2015, that have engaged patients and caregivers in identifying aging-related research goals and defining outcomes and methods. By this approach, there is assurance that research outcomes are meaningful and the community understands the role of recruitment in being able to answer the questions of shared importance.