Work aims to address the challenges of dementia research and mental health systems research in India

Boston University Global Programs and Boston University Foundation-India are pleased to announce that our spring 2022 Seed Fund has been awarded to Dr. Rhoda Au, Professor at the Boston University School of Medicine and Director of Global Cohort Development at the Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative, and Dr. Rajesh Raman of the JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research in India for their research proposal titled “Cultural Adaptation and Validation of the DAC Digital Phenotyping Assessments in the MUDHRA Cohort in South India.”

Their study aims to address the challenges around dementia research in India, including how cognitive assessments are often language and culturally biased due to their origin in North America and Europe. The work will conduct cognitive and genetic genotyping studies to enhance dementia research capacity in low-and-middle-income countries.

“We are pleased to award the 2022 Seed Fund to Dr. Au and Dr. Raman,” said Willis G. Wang, Vice President and Associate Provost for Global Programs. “Dr. Au’s research and leadership in the fields of brain health, cognitive aging, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease help advance critical work with far-reaching effects. We look forward to learning about the progress that she and her Indian PI, Dr. Rajesh Raman, make in enhancing dementia research capacity in India.”

The research project encompasses three complementary objectives to address these challenges:

  1. A systematic review related to psychometric properties, validation and utility (clinical and research) of digital cognitive assessments aimed at screening and or diagnosis of dementia among older adults in low-and middle-income countries.
  2. Cultural adaptation, translations and validation of the Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative – digital battery of cognitive assessments in Hindi (national language) and Kannada (regional language in Mysore) in India.
  3. An evaluation of the feasibility of the Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative protocol for genetic tests/genotyping, including adapting within the statutory framework and ethical guidelines of the Indian Council for Medical Research through focus group discussions and a review of relevant policies related to dementia research and collection/storage of biological samples in India.

Dr. Au will work with the Indian PI Dr. Rajesh Raman of the JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research in India.

“I am delighted to receive this award from BU Global Programs and BU Foundation-India,” said Dr. Rhoda Au. “Working with partners in India we look forward to identifying digital cognitive assessments aimed at screening or diagnosing dementia. This, among other key objectives, will help address the challenges around dementia and mental health systems research and determine potential solutions for addressing them.”

About the Award

The BU Global Programs and Boston University Foundation-India (BUFI) Seed Fund Program is designed to seed new or support existing collaborative research projects in India conducted by BU faculty and their peers in India. The research project may be in any discipline but must directly benefit India. Review criteria for the seed fund include:

  • Clearly articulated potential for measurable positive impact on India and leads to improved quality of life for its people;
  • Likelihood that the project will lead to subsequent external funding; and
  • Well-defined and achievable project scope, activities, and goals.