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Columbia study looks at ‘police-sanctioned lynchings’ and Alzheimer’s

Will study memory problems and ‘structural racism’

A Columbia University professor secured a $125,441 grant to research the link between “structural racism” and “Alzheimer’s disease related dementias.”

Professor Paris Adkins-Jackson is currently investigating this issue with the help of a grant from the National Institute on Aging which runs until 2028.

She (pictured) began the research in 2023 with a grant for $125,442 also from the National Institute on Aging.

The grant will assist her research into how “historical police-sanctioned lynchings during early life, to police-involved killings, arrests, and incarcerations of Black and Latinx/a/o persons during midlife,” can contribute to memory diseases later in life.

She calls these encounters “adverse community-level policing” events. Adkins-Jackson is a “health equity researcher” and epidemiology professor at the university’s public health school, according to her university bio.

She holds a doctorate degree in psychometrics from Morgan State University. “Dr. AJ’s research investigates the role of structural racism on healthy aging for historically marginalized populations like Black and Pacific Islander communities,” according to her bio. Adkins-Jackson is also involved with the Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity at the University of Minnesota.

The professor did not respond to two emailed requests for further comments on the nature of her research in the past month. The College Fix asked what she expected to find from this research and if she would control for other variables such as access to healthcare.

A Columbia news release quoted her as saying she wants her research to “inspire support for aging populations.”

“Our elders have endured and survived a changing world, often in the face of the world’s (and this country’s) worst,” Adkins-Jackson stated. “There is a dire need to allocate resources to change structural determinants, like racism, now in order to ensure the longevity of the next aging generation.”

“Drawing inspiration from the resilience of communities and pioneers of literature on racism and dementia, Dr. Adkins-Jackson will embark on a journey to challenge prevailing narratives surrounding racialized health disparities,” the university stated.

Medical reform group questions study

However, the research director for a medical reform group called Do No Harm questioned the Columbia professor’s hypothesis.

“Her hypothesis is animated by beliefs that are not grounded in reality,” Ian Kingsbury told The Fix via an email statement.

“In reality, only a handful of unarmed people are shot by police each year,” he wrote, citing Harvard University economist Roland Fryer’s study which found there is no racial bias in police shootings.

He noted “that [Adkins-Jackson’s study] begins with cynical and plainly fictional assertions about American society” and therefore does not “inspire much confidence in whatever analysis is going to follow.”

“Activist health ‘researchers’ blame racism for all sorts of issues that deserve serious attention and rigorous research,” Kingsbury said.

“Unfortunately, it’s a distraction that diverts resources away from research that could actually help people.”

MORE: NIH spends $3 million studying microaggressions, HIV

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Benjamin Vogel is a student at Hope College studying political science and philosophy. He is an active member of Hope Catholics and Hope Students Cherishing Life and serves on the executive board of Hope Republicans. He has written for the Bell Tower, a student journal of Christian theological scholarship launched in 2020.