Black and Hispanic volunteers needed for ground-breaking dementia research through USF

USF is expected to enroll new participants into its ground-breaking dementia research study in late March before rolling it out across the U.S. To qualify, participants must be 65 and older with no signs of cognitive impairment or dementia.

TAMPA BAY — The National Institutes of Health National Institute on Aging has awarded a grant of $44.3 million in expected funds over five years to continue the University of South Florida’s Preventing Alzheimer’s with Cognitive Training (PACT) study.

Dementia is the most expensive medical condition in the U.S. PACT study principal investigator Jerri Edwards, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, said there is an urgent need to intervene to curb the increasing prevalence of dementia in our society.

Strong preliminary data from more than 18 randomized clinical trials demonstrate that a particular type of computerized cognitive training improves older adults’ cognition and transfers to improved everyday activities. Recent evidence further indicates that such cognitive training may reduce dementia risk.

A multi-million-dollar grant of this size demonstrates the importance of the PACT study, which will be expanded to other sites nationwide. In acknowledging the importance of the government’s support, Dr. Edwards also emphasized the importance of the team effort and research volunteers that brought them to this point.

“The contributions of my co-investigators, the entire PACT study team, and particularly our study participants have been instrumental in procuring this grant,” he said. “Our research mission is to determine how cognitive abilities can be enhanced with advancing age to help older adults avoid functional difficulties, maintain independence, and experience a better quality of life.”

The key to the successful implementation of PACT is the enrollment of study participants, volunteers from the community who would like to be a part of important scientific research with the potential to prevent dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

USF is expected to enroll new participants in Florida in late March before rolling out across the U.S. To qualify, participants must be 65 and older with no signs of cognitive impairment or dementia.

There is an emphasis on the need for Black and Hispanic study volunteers. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, these populations are at the highest risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

PACT participants will be asked to come to two in-person study visits initially. They will then complete the computerized training exercises in the comfort of their own home or office.

Participants will be asked to return about three years later for a third study visit. During in-person visits, USF Health will follow all necessary precautions per CDC guidelines and USF policy.

Study volunteers will choose USF sites where they can participate, including the Cognitive Aging Lab on the Tampa campus off Fletcher Ave., the St. Petersburg campus, and locations in Lakeland and Winter Haven in Polk County. Other community sites can also be arranged for interested groups.

Dr. Edwards stresses that the greater Tampa Bay region will play a crucial role in the PACT study and the future of Alzheimer’s research, saying, “The outcome of this study will be significant. Research indicates that if an intervention can delay the onset of dementia by only one year, health care costs will be substantially reduced.”

For more information or to volunteer, please call (813) 974-6703, or visit the PACT study website at

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