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Today Show: Vanderbilt Memory and Alzheimer’s Center makes national push for clinical study enrollment. You can help.

Jun. 21, 2022, 8:31 AM

by Holly Fletcher


The Today Show’s Maria Shriver spotlighted a landmark, years-long study into the connection between heart health and Alzheimer’s disease, and the urgency to boost study enrollment—particularly among people of color who are disproportionally impacted yet historically underrepresented in research.

Kimberly Williams-Paisley, an actress and Nashvillian, explained how her mother’s decade long struggle with Alzheimer’s spurred her to participate in the study led by Angela Jefferson, PhD, professor of Neurology and Medicine and founding director of the Vanderbilt Memory and Alzheimer’s Center (VMAC).

“We need people to participate in research — and I can do that. I can amplify that need by showing what I’m doing,” said Williams-Paisley about why she invited cameras into some of her study procedures.

VMAC needs to enroll at least 1,000 people aged 50 and older to study the long-term connection between heart health and brain health. Jefferson and her colleagues are hopeful that Alzheimer’s could become a preventable disease in the future, if the underlying drivers of the disease are identified and targeted with an early treatment.

“This is not just a professional passion for me, it is also quite personal. I know, having multiple family members affected by Alzheimer’s disease, just how complicated this disease is – how frustrated and helpless you can feel,” said Jefferson. I want to be part of the solution to ensure that other families don’t experience what my family and what Kim’s family went through. I’m thrilled millions of Americans had the opportunity to glimpse the promise of our Vanderbilt Memory and Aging Project. The impact that each of us can make as individuals if we work together is amazing.”

Study participants can be anywhere in the U.S., but will need to come to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, every two years for follow up. Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds are strongly encouraged to volunteer.

To get involved, people can visit to fill out an interest survey or they can call the recruitment line at 615-875-3175.


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