MPH Student Focuses on Dementia and Alzheimer’s through Research & Internship Positions

Student Cassie Kane stands in front of the School of Public Health, looking to the side.

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 14, 2021) – Cassie Kane, a School of Public Health student earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) and a Graduate Certificate in Maternal and Child Health, isn’t waiting until her education is complete to dedicate herself to work supporting caregivers of those living with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

This semester Kane is completing an internship and working as a research assistant, and in both positions focuses on dementia/Alzheimer’s work.

“Millions of lives are impacted from dementia and Alzheimer’s, and with an increasing older adult population, our country needs to prepare for long term care services in the near future,” Kane said. “The extent of work that caregivers conduct is extremely overlooked, and I believe it is an area of work that deserves more attention and more support.”

In her internship position, Kane is working with Mary Gallant, a professor of Health Policy, Management and Behavior, to evaluate the New York State Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiver Support Initiative, a five-year program through the New York State Department of Health designed to support caregivers and people with dementia using evidence-based public health strategies. Using the data, she conducts analyses to help determine how services may consider changes going forward to improve caregiver support.

“The most interesting aspect for me has been to run the analyses and witness the demographic characteristics of caregivers as well as view whether their burden has gotten better or worse after participating in services,” Kane said.

Through her research assistant position, Kane is assisting Yuchi Young (an associate professor of Health Policy, Management and Behavior) with a community health assessment in Orange County and the Hudson Valley region. Her work looks at data and statistics to help better understand the burden of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

“I find it fascinating to learn about all of the moving parts involved with the impacts of dementia and Alzheimer’s. I have seen firsthand the impact that the disease causes on the person diagnosed and the family caregiver,” Kane explained. “Programs throughout New York State — especially within UAlbany and the Department of Health — have a lot of significance. Many people are in need of the findings that we as researchers can provide.”

Kane’s work this summer, combined with her academic program, has inspired her to take a closer look at understanding the impact of Alzheimer’s, especially within the U.S. healthcare system. She plans to pursue a career in hospital administration, so that she can work with physicians, caregivers, and patients to better shape quality care and response.

“Caregivers face an immense amount of work when caring for their care recipient, the extent of this work is frequently overlooked, and I believe it is an area that deserves more attention and more support,” Kane said.