About Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute

The Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute (WAI) is committed to helping people living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia, their caregivers, and the health professionals working to support them.

Our mission is to promote health equity and improve the quality of life of people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and their families through research and community engagement.

Our purpose is to increase dementia awareness, provide education on Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders, identify and disseminate strategies to reduce dementia risk, convene stakeholders across the state, improve access to quality dementia care services, and to develop and support culturally tailored, effective clinical and community-based models of care.

In the spirit of the Wisconsin Idea to share knowledge, WAI collaborates with both rural communities and urban centers, the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC), and various University of Wisconsin academic and research departments.

WAI receives core funding from the state of Wisconsin, research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and program funding from Bader Philanthropies.

The WAI is home to the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention (WRAP), the largest parental history cohort study of Alzheimer’s disease in the world. The WRAP study tracks the characteristics and habits of adults who have a parent with Alzheimer’s disease.

In 2019, WAI partenered with the Wisconsin ADRC to launch the UW Iniative to End Alzheimer’s. We are working together across the spectrum of Alzheimer’s disease – from research to community outreach to improved patient care – committed to developing the next breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s disease research, prevention, and care.

WAI history:

WAI was established in 1998 by a coalition of service providers, community-based organizations, educational institutions and advocates organized by the Wisconsin Bureau on Aging and Long-Term Care Resources and Bader Philanthropies. WAI received pioneering guidance and support under the leadership of our founding director Dr. Mark Sager.

In 2008, the WAI Regional Milwaukee Office was established in Milwaukee, WI with the goals of empowering the local community, improving access to quality care, and increasing African-American research participation by building culturally-tailored programs.

WAI Leadership:

Cynthia Carlsson, MD, MS, is Director of WAI. Dr. Carlsson is also the Clinical Core leader of Wisconsin ADRC, a faculty member of the division of Geriatrics and Gerentology, and a geriatrician who treats veterans with dementia and memory issues. She is co-director of the memory clinic at William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital.

Donna M. Cole, BS, is Administrator of WAI. Ms. Cole began her career as a bench-top biologist at NIH, later transitioning to administrative/management roles. She is happy to help with any questions you may have about WAI.

Gina Green-Harris, MBA, is Director of the WAI Regional Milwaukee Office. She also serves as Director of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health Center for Community Engagement and Health Partnerships in Milwaukee, Director of the All of Us Research program in Milwaukee, and Director of the Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families (LIHF).

Amy Hawley is the Administrator for WRAP and the Administrator for the ADRC Biomarker Core, as well as administrator of other studies that Dr. Sterling Johnson leads.

Sterling Johnson, PhD, is Associate Director of WAI. Dr. Johnson is a clinical neuropsychologist with research interests in early identification of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. He leads the WRAP study and is the Associate Director and Biomarker Core leader in the Wisconsin ADRC.

Nia Norris, MAPS, is Assistant Director of the WAI Regional Milwaukee Office. She assists in the development of outreach and research programs to Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin communities, maintaining strategic partnerships to support programs for minority and medically under-served individuals.

Art Walaszek, MD, leads the education and community health activities of WAI. He is Vice Chair for Education and Faculty Development and Director of Psychiatry Residency Training at the University of Wisconsin Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Walaszek is co-leader of the Outreach, Recruitment and Engagement Core at the Wisconsin ADRC.

Kimberly Mueller, PhD, and Megan Zuelsdorff, PhD, are faculty members of the WAI leadership team.

Alzheimer's facts and figures