Satellite Core - American Indian & Alaska Native AD Research

Little is known about Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and vascular brain injury in American Indian populations. Therefore, in collaboration with Partnerships for Native Health, the Satellite Core is conducting a pilot project on AD among participants of the Strong Heart Stroke Study in 3 major geographic regions of the US. The Satellite Core is now re-examining surviving participants using imaging, clinical, cognitive, and functional testing, augmented by measures related to AD – specifically the cognitive testing portions of the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center Uniform Data Set. The aim is to document longitudinal changes in MRI-defined brain structures and their relationship to cognitive or functional decline, and to establish normative and diagnostic standards and estimates of prevalence for probable AD and related dementias. This Satellite Core project offers an unparalleled opportunity to assess AD and its risk factors and consequences in an understudied population. 

Specifics of the data include: demographics, socioeconomics, language use, alcohol and tobacco use, anthropometric and clinical examination including standard blood and urine labs, medication use, detailed family and personal medical history with focus on neurological and cardiovascular conditions, traumatic events and stress, depression, quality of life, electrocardiogram, short physical performance battery, finger tap, grip strength, activites of daily living, and several cognitive test batteries (Modified Mini Mental Status, Weschler Adult Intelligence Scale coding test, Controlled Oral Word Association, California Verbal Learning Test, Montreal Cognitive Assessment, Craft story, Benson figure, number span test, category fluency test, trail making test, Multilingual Naming Test), and 1.5T structural MRI (sagittal T1-weighted localizer, co-registered 5 mm axial-T1, 5 mm axial-T2, 5 mm axial-T2* susceptibility-weighted images in the anterior commissure/posterior commissure plane, 3 mm axial fluid-attenuated inversion recovery, and 1.5 mm sagittal T1-weighted volumetric gradient echo) with coding for infarcts, lacunar infarcts, hemorrhages, white matter hyperintensities and microvascular lesions, sulcal dilatation, ventricle enlargement, intracranial volume, white & grey matter volume, and hippocampus volume. Efforts are also underway to create 3-D brain maps with specificity for AD-affected volumetric measurements.

Due to tribal, community, and Indian Health Service partner agreements, the data from this project must remain separate from National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center datasets. These data may be used for secondary data analysis, with degree of access (e.g. direct or indirect access) defined based on tribal and individual participant consents. Most investigators will be allowed indirect access, wherein Satellite Core analysts conduct statistical analysis under direction of the investigator. The process for project initiation involves proposal submission to Publications & Presentations Committee (timeline for review: typically 2 months after submission). Some projects require special tribal and/or study Steering Committee review, which may take longer. The paper writing process also requires tribal reviews for all completed, outgoing manuscripts before submission to a journal (timeline for review: typically 3-6 months after writing is completed). Payment structures for analyst time are defined on a project-by-project basis, as needed.

Investigators interested in working with these data should contact the Satellite Core's Dr. Astrid Suchy-Dicey, at

Image: Partnerships for Native Health