The inaugural Global Brain Health Institute Conference took place December 8–11, 2015. The annual meeting provides an opportunity for faculty, staff, and trainees to determine how to partner effectively and to develop innovative projects that will reduce the scale and impact of dementia internationally. The three-day program includes presentations, panel discussions, lectures, and social gatherings.

This first meeting focused on the initial regions of GBHI emphasis: Latin America and the Mediterranean region. The meeting was held in Cuba, a country already engaged in training medical doctors for resource-limited areas around the world. GBHI hopes to engage with Cuba early in operations.

Key leaders in brain health from the World Health Organization, Alzheimer’s Association, Canadian Institute of Health Research, and Institute of Aging presented to the group. Conference speakers provided evening community lectures to local physicians and caregivers. The Cuban Ministry of Health and local television media made presentations to reduce the stigma of aging and dementia while sharing the excitement around the new initiative. Group sessions addressed critical issues around the design of a training program and included challenging issues such as reducing the “brain drain” from regions engaged. The conference organizers held a pre-conference set of meetings with the National Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery (INN) and included case presentations and teaching.

Conference Organizers

  • Bruce L. Miller, MD — University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine
  • Ian Robertson, PhD — Trinity College Dublin
  • Pedro A. Valdés-Sosa, MD, PhD, DSc — Research Cuban Neurosciences Center

Accomplishments

  • GBHI provided 16 scholarships for individuals representing eight different countries spanning Latin America, the Mediterranean, US, and Ireland.
  • Key stakeholders attended from 15 countries and actively engaged in the meeting.
  • Cuba announced the approval of a new aging plan from the Ministry of Health with GBHI leadership participating in the press release and interviews
  • A Cuban TV show, broadly watched in Cuba and South America interviewed speakers at the meeting for a special episode of the show based on brain health.
  • GBHI leadership has been asked to serve on the scientific committee of the International Psychogeriatric Association’s 2016 International Congress.
  • Several new collaborations were launched during the meeting.
  • Leadership received outstanding input on curriculum content, partnerships, avoiding “brain drain,” and assessment of regional needs.

The first GBHI annual meeting exceeded expectations. Attendees were highly engaged and participated in the full meeting. The mixture of presentations and discussions across topics allowed participants to listen, learn, and share. International leaders in brain health embraced these discussions and, together, these discussion groups advised GBHI leadership about critical gaps in brain health worldwide. Future conferences will include more policy, advocacy, economics and non-physician experience.

Agenda

Day 1

Opening Plenaries

  • WHO Priorities (Shekhar Saxena, World Health Organization)
  • Global Needs in Alzheimer's Disease Prevention and Treatment (Maria Carrillo, Alzheimer’s Association)
  • Statement from the Ministry of Health of Cuba

Panel Discussion

  • Forging International Relationships to Address the Dementia Epidemic

Research and Care for the Underserved Population in Latin America

  • The Cuban Study of Aging and Dementia
  • Outreach in Brazil
  • The API Colombia Study

Applying Technology to Address Public Health Needs

  • Multimodal Biomarkers of MCI
  • TabCAT Brain Health Assessment
  • Hierarchical Active Screening of Cognitive Risk
  • Network Degeneration
  • Multimodal Neuroimaging
  • Event Related Potentials/Oscillations in Aging and Neurodegenerative Diseases

Scalable Interventions

  • Mitigating Risk Factors
  • Facing Population Aging
  • Community-based Assessment of Cardiovascular Risk
  • A Scalable Mid-life Intervention to Improve Late-life Cognitive Health
  • Palliative Care and Dementia
  • Increasing Social Engagement

Developing Human Capital

  • Cuban International School of Neurosciences
  • Bringing the Best Physicians to Underserved Regions of Canada
  • Training Models and Opportunities in Ireland
  • Training Models and Opportunities in Greece
  • Training Opportunities in Argentina
  • Training Models and Opportunities in San Francisco

Beyond Diagnostic Assessment

  • Dementia in Today’s World: Addressing the Messages we Send around the World
  • A Systematic Review of the Public’s Knowledge and Understanding of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
  • Web-based Education for Families

Day 2

Breakout Sessions

  • Supporting Vulnerable Populations
  • Identifying Collaborations and High Impact Projects
  • Using Technology to Support GBHI Mission and Training
  • Strategies and Framework for Engaging Governments and Influencing Policy

Health Economics and Public Policy

  • Reframing Practice and Policy for Dementia in Ireland
  • Strategic Planning for Enhancing Cognitive Health and Wellness in an Aging Population
  • Public Policy Development and Implementation

Advanced Methods in Aging and Dementia

  • The Importance of Rare Variants in Understanding Dementia
  • Alzheimer’s Disease: The Main Medical Problem in Adults with Down Syndrome
  • Autopsy Work/Brain Banking
  • Global Applications for Advanced Imaging Techniques

Day 3

Closing Plenary Session

  • Addressing Geriatric Mental Health Needs in Low Income Countries

Breakout Sessions

  • Creating a Public Policy Curriculum Focused on Global Brain Health
  • Creating a Network of Fellows, Scholars, and Institutions/Organizations
  • Recruiting Successful Fellows and Scholars Worldwide across Multiple Disciplines
  • Sustainability: Maximizing Impact and Extending Resources

Global Institutional Attendance

The following organizations, hailing from 15 different countries, were represented at the  meeting:

  • Argentina: Favaloro University, IBCN at University of Buenos Aires
  • Brazil: Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein, University of São Paulo, University of Taubaté
  • Canada: Institute of Health Research, The University of British Columbia
  • Colombia: University of Antioquia
  • Cuba: Center for Research of Longevity and Aging, Cuban Neuroscience Center, Elderly of Matanzas, Ministry of Public Health, National Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery, The University of Medical Sciences of Havana, University of Havana
  • Dominican Republic: Pedro Henriquez Ureña National University
  • France: University Institute of Neurosciences
  • Greece: Aristotle University Thessaloniki, Interbalkan Medical Center Thessaloniki, National Technical University of Athens, University of Athens
  • Ireland: Dublin City University, Genio, National University of Ireland (Galway), Trinity College Dublin
  • Mexico: National Autonomous University of Mexico
  • Spain: Neurology Department - Hospital Clinic Barcelona, Hospital Marques de Valdecilla, Hospital San Pau Barcelona
  • Switzerland: World Health Organization
  • Turkey: Dokuz Eylül University, University of Istanbul
  • United Kingdom: Kings College London
  • United States: Alzheimer's Association, Columbia University, The Atlantic Philanthropies, University of California San Francisco

Scholars

Sixteen promising trainees attended the conference as scholars. Scholars presented research posters outlining their current work.

  • Leonel Takada, Brazil: Development of educational materials for physicians, caregivers and patients to improve diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia, particularly in individuals under the age of 65
  • Serggio Lanata, USA: Creation of a neuropsychological test capable of being administered via tablet for individuals of varying backgrounds, cultures, and educations, including those from Spanish-speaking Latin American cultures
  • Elissaios Karageorgiou, Greece & USA: Early dementia diagnoses enhanced through scalable evaluation of sleep disturbance
  • Dreya Durusu Emek Savas, Turkey: Decreased delta event oscillations events by EEG to improve early diagnosis of dementia
  • Javier Riancho, Spain: Retinoid-X receptor agonist, Bexarotene, delays deterioration and extends survival in animal models of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Mircea Balasa, Spain: Comparison of clinical profile, biological correlates, biomarkers and structural MRI in sporadic vs. genetic early onset Alzheimer’s disease (EOAD)
  • Deirdre Robertson, Ireland: Negative perceptions of aging may modify the association between frailty and frontal cognitive domains in older individuals
  • Stelios Zygouris, Greece: Computerized cognitive training and testing programs by the Greek Association of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders to improve healthcare, diagnosis, and to combat cognitive decline in remote or understaffed regions
  • Maria Pertl, Ireland: Associations between caregiving and functional impairments among the caregivers
  • Caoimhe Hannigan, Ireland: Poor sleep quality and cognitive reserve
  • Anna Oh, USA: The Dementia Care Ecosystem, an interdisciplinary, personalized care model for individuals with dementia
  • Murillo Ricardo Zibetti, Brazil: Developing tools to assess impact of dementia considering different social environments: An example through a memory test
  • Claudia Kimie Suemoto, Brazil: Pre-clinical dementia predicts weight loss for people as early as their late 50s
  • Karolina Gouveia Cesar, Brazil: The prevalence of cognitive impairment and dementia in community-dwelling elderly Brazilians
  • Eleonore Bayen, France: The multidimensional burden placed on informal caregivers in Huntington’s disease
  • Jorge Llibre, Cuba: The prevalence and incidence of dementia and associations between APOE genotype, cardiovascular risk factors, and dementia in the Cuban populations

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