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OSP Scholar Spotlight: Amanda Boyd, PhD

The OSP Scholar Spotlight highlights speakers for the NIA Task Force on Minority Aging and Health Disparities subcommittee of the National Advisory Council on Aging.

Dr. Amanda BoydDr. Amanda Boyd is an Associate Professor in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University (WSU) and affiliated with the WSU Initiative for Research and Education to Advance Community Health. Dr. Boyd responded to the following questions about her education profile, research and training support from NIA.

What is your professional/educational background?

I have an interdisciplinary education including a Master’s degree in Rural Sociology, a PhD in Communication, and a post-doctoral fellowship in Indigenous Studies. Before entering academia, I worked for 8 years in the public relations industry.

How were you drawn to Tribal Health research?

I come from a rural family of farmers and ranchers that homesteaded in northern Alberta, Canada 105 years ago. We are both First Nations and Métis. This background has strongly influenced my professional path and fueled my passion to improve the health and well-being of Native and rural populations. My ultimate goal is to develop the theory and tools needed to effectively communicate health risks to Native populations, particularly Native elders.

What is a challenge that older adults in tribal populations face that may be served by NIA research?

One of the greatest challenges for tribal populations is Alzheimer’s disease. The American Indian population is increasing 3 times faster than the US general population. Despite advances in Alzheimer’s disease among other populations, there is little known about prevalence and risk factors for American Indians. NIA stands at the forefront of research on Alzheimer’s disease and can facilitate the studies needed to gain insight into Alzheimer’s disease with American Indians.

What are your future plans for your research?

There is low participation of American Indians in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia research. This is one of the reasons why little is known about Alzheimer’s disease in this population. To increase research participation, it is important to understand how to communicate about Alzheimer’s disease and clinical studies. My goal is to determine the most effective methods to communicate with Native populations about Alzheimer’s disease and research participation opportunities.

How has training support from NIA helped your career?

Training support from NIA has helped my career in numerous ways. I currently have an NIA-funded Diversity Supplement. This grant provides me with the opportunity to learn from mentors, complete courses, increase my knowledge on Alzheimer’s disease, and gain valuable research experience. I also attended the 2019 Butler Williams Scholars program. This week-long program facilitates learning about NIA, research on aging and grant opportunities. I met many new colleagues doing research on aging and Alzheimer’s disease and left the program with a greater understanding of NIH.