The African Ancestry Neuroscience Research Initiative

We’re a groundbreaking collaboration between African American community leaders in Baltimore, the Lieber Institute for Brain Development, and Morgan State University that aims to address and rectify longstanding disparities in neuroscience research. AANRI is committed to advancing scientific understanding, promoting racial equity in neuroscience and paving the way for inclusive biomedical research.

Breaking News: AANRI’s First Study Initiative Identifies Key Genes in the Brain that Account for Higher Rates of Some Brain Disorders in Black Americans 

Empowering communities through science

Integrating communities of African ancestry into scientific exploration is crucial, especially since African Americans are more likely to experience certain brain disorders. In early 2024, AANRI will publish its inaugural research, the first study of how ancestry influences the expression of genes in the human brain and how this explains differences in susceptibility and resilience to brain illness such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and Parkinson’s disease. 

Building the future of neuroscience

Developing a diverse neuroscience workforce is central to our mission. Only 4% of neuroscience Ph.D.s go to Black scientists. We actively create opportunities for Black students and researchers and foster collaborations focused on health disparities.

Addressing critical gaps in research

Humans are 99.9% genetically similar, but slight variations based on ancestry can reveal patterns crucial to health outcomes. Underrepresented minorities comprise only 5% of neuroscience research subjects. AANRI aims to rectify this imbalance by studying ancestry-­related differences, increasing participant diversity and diversifying the cadre of scientists conducting and designing these crucial studies.

A partnership fostered by support

AANRI is proud of support from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Brown Capital Management, the State of Maryland and the Abell Foundation. Such partnerships are crucial in propelling the research and educational efforts at the Lieber Institute, which houses the world’s most extensive collection of postmortem human brains used for neuropsychiatric research, including a substantial number from individuals of African ancestry.

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