University of South Florida

USF Health Byrd Institute brings award-winning play about Alzheimer’s in African American community to Tampa

Production part of sustained, nationwide effort to increase minority enrollment in clinical trials

Tampa, FL (June 1, 2015) – The USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute has teamed up with African Americans Against Alzheimer’s to host the award-winning Garrett Davis play Forget Me Not at 2 p.m., Saturday, June 27, at USF Theatre I, 3755 USF Holly West, Tampa, FL 33620.

The production is part of a national campaign to help educate the African American community about the memory-robbing neurodegenerative disease and increase minority participation in clinical trials.

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African Americans are two to three times more likely than white Americans to develop Alzheimer’s disease, yet they are less likely to be diagnosed. While Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, it is the fourth leading cause of death for older African Americans. Alzheimer’s is the only disease in the top 10 with no cure, treatment, or prevention.

A critical factor in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s is participation in clinical trials, the step-by-step process testing new procedures, drugs, or vaccines for prevention, treatment, screening or improving quality of life. African Americans make up more than 13 percent of the population but comprise only 5 percent of all clinical trial participants.  And this participation rate is even lower for older African Americans, who are more likely to develop the disease.

African Americans Against Alzheimer’s spearheads a nationwide effort to increase enrollment in clinical trials by meeting African Americans in churches, community centers, and through leading organizations. The focus is arming African Americans with information they need to know about the clinical trials so that they are better prepared to discuss the option with their doctors and families.

The organization has also partnered with the Forget Me Not Project to raise awareness of the disease through local productions of the award-winning play, Forget Me Not. The play, directed by Garrett Davis, takes the audience into the life of a family facing a medical challenge – Alzheimer’s disease – and shows its impact on friends, marriage, and those in the community as well as the immediate family members.


The play, already performed in Boston, Houston, Philadelphia and Washington, DC before coming to Tampa, is immediately followed by discussion with the play’s director and a local panel of Alzheimer’s experts. The experts answer important questions about medical and social services available in their communities and share how researchers are working to find ways to prevent and more effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease.

“The disparity between the number of cases of Alzheimer’s and the low participation rate in clinical trials makes it challenging to know if the results of treatment trials will apply to the general population, especially Africa-Americans” said David Morgan, PhD,  CEO of the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute.  “Today, the only opportunity to gain access to the cutting-edge medications that may arrest the underlying disease process is by clinical trial participation. We need to make this clear to everyone.”

COPH sound-icon-png  Listen to Dr. Morgan’s audio clip.

“We need to band together to increase minority participation – and African American participation in particular – in clinical trials. It’s the only way to ensure that new drugs, treatments and therapies are both safe and effective for our community,” said Stephanie Monroe, director of African Americans Against Alzheimer’s, who was named Humanitarian of the Year by the National Baptist Congress last year for her Alzheimer’s outreach activities. “By going straight to the heart of communities, we hope to spread the word and make a real difference.”


WHAT:          Production of the play Forget Me Not followed by a panel discussion.

WHEN:          2 p.m., Saturday, June 27

visit Event Brite – Forget Me Not tickets

Panel discussion with Alzheimer’s experts, including:

Amanda Smith, MD, Medical Director, USF Health Byrd Institute
Jasmine B. R. Cutler, CPH, PharmD, Pharmacist
Alyssa Gamaldo, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, USF School of Aging Studies
Bernice Jennings Green, caregiver to a loved one with Alzheimer’s
Stephanie Monroe, Director, African Americans Against Alzheimer’s
Garrett Davis, President, Forget Me Not Project; Director, Forget Me Not

WHERE:       University of South Florida, College of The Arts, Theatre I
3755 USF Holly West, Tampa, FL 33620


USF Health’s mission is to envision and implement the future of health. It is the partnership of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Public Health, the College of Pharmacy, the School of Biomedical Sciences and the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences; and the USF Physician’s Group. The University of South Florida is a Top 50 research university in total research expenditures among both public and private institutions nationwide, according to the National Science Foundation.  For more information, visit

The USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute is a multi-disciplinary center of excellence at the University of South Florida and the largest freestanding facility dedicated to caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders—providing prevention, diagnosis and treatment services in one location. The Institute provides compassionate family-centered patient care, performs cutting edge research and delivers quality public and professional education. On-site services include patient evaluation and ongoing care; clinical drug studies; laboratory research; caregiver support; and education and training for health professionals. To schedule an appointment or to learn more about clinical trials in Alzheimer’s disease, call (813) 396-0728 or visit 

African Americans Against Alzheimer’s aims to unify the powerful voice of the African American community in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. The network arms African Americans and others who are committed to our mission with the information and easy-to-use connections needed to be heard by the public, in Washington and in state capitals, and by industry leaders and the research community. Their goal is to engage and connect a network of individuals, businesses, and nonprofit organizations to mobilize the energy of African Americans in advocacy efforts that advance our national commitment to ending Alzheimer’s.

Media contacts:                                             
Shani Fails, USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute, 813-396-0675  or
Ranit Schmelzer, African Americans Against Alzheimer’s 202-538-1065 or


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