Goldie Byrd

Goldie S. Byrd

Founding Director and Professor of Biology at COAACH Community

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2105 Yanceyville Street, Greensboro, North Carolina, United States
HQ Phone:
(336) 285-2165

General Information


Professor and Chair - North Carolina A&T State University

Adjunct Assistant Professor - Duke University

Lead Alzheimer's Researcher - A&T's College of Arts and Sciences

Visiting Professor -

Research - HBCU

Position, Mentoring Programs - National Society of Black Engineers Inc

Teacher - Excellence in Science , Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring


Bachelor of Science Degrees - Professional Biology and Biology Education , North Carolina A & T State University

Ph.D. - Microbial Genetics , Meharry Medical College

bachelor's degrees - professional biology and biology secondary education , A&T


Board Member - North Carolina Biotechnology Center

Board Member - NC Science & Technology

Board Member - North Carolina Department of Commerce

Board Member - Leadership North Carolina Inc

Faculty Member In the Biology Departments - North Carolina Central University

Board Member - North Carolina Board of Science and Technology

Founder - Center for Outreach

Member - The American Society of Human Genetics Incorporated

Research Adjunct Faculty Member In the Department of Medicine - Byrd

Founder - AfricanAmericansAgainstAlzheimer

Faculty Member In the Biology Departments - Tennessee State University

Recent News  

Staff Departaments COAACH

Goldie S. Byrd, Ph.D.
Founding Director and Professor of Biology

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Goldie S. Byrd, Ph.D.
COAACH Founding Director and Professor of Biology

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Forget me not | The NC Triad's altweekly

Dr. Goldie Byrd, a biology professor at NC A&T University, is leading groundbreaking research on Alzheimer's and African Americans. (photo by Pivot Point Media)
The answer is gradually coming into focus, thanks in part to the research of Dr. Goldie Byrd, the founding director of COAACH, which opened in 2014. Byrd joined the faculty at NC A&T as chair of the biology department in 2003, and that year she completed a sabbatical at the Duke Center for Human Genetics, where she helped initiate a study on Alzheimer's. At the time, the university had 7,000 blood samples, but less than 50 were drawn from African-American volunteers. "We wanted to increase our knowledge about Alzheimer's, particularly underrepresented groups like African Americans and Hispanics," Byrd said. "These groups had a disproportionate burden, but there was so little in the literature about Alzheimer's in these groups, particularly Alzheimer's relationship to genetics." As Byrd continued her research at her new post at A&T, the first challenge was to figure out how to overcome reluctance among African Americans to participating in studies. "We began by going into the community and asking different stakeholders - lay people, the faith-based communities; we went to health fairs and barbershops - and we asked people if they would participate in a study," Byrd recalled. "What would the barriers be? What would the motivations be?" Distrust among African Americans due to the legacy of atrocities like the Tuskegee experiment - a project launched by the US Public Health Service in 1932 in which researchers studied black men with syphilis without their informed consent and without treating them for the disease - was an obvious hurdle. And while there are continuing reasons for African Americans and other underrepresented groups to distrust the medical establishment, Byrd emphasized that ethical research coupled with culturally calibrated outreach can overcome barriers. "People struggle with lack of access and the indifference when they're treated even in 2017," Byrd said. The family-support component that became a core pillar of the COAACH center emerged as natural extension of Dr. Byrd's understanding that she needed to design a study that would earn the trust of African-American volunteers. "The person I was working with - we agreed we would create an environment that specifically targeted African Americans and engaged them directly in what the study was, that would create learning opportunities for this community, that would keep them engaged and keep them in the loop around what's happening with the research," Byrd said. Although COAACH opened in response to a need to engage African Americans in Alzheimer's research, Byrd and other staff members emphasize that the programs at the center are open to people of all races. "We created our COAACH center to assure not only African Americans but people of all races that we were there, and we weren't going to get them into the study and leave," Byrd said. "If people needed information about diabetes, which is linked to Alzheimer's, they could call. If a church was having a health fair, they could call. We created a support group that people can attend; they don't have to be African American. They can attend Lunch & Learn." Through Dr. Byrd's efforts, the bank of data on African Americans with Alzheimer's has dramatically expanded. As part of the Alzheimer's Disease Genetics Consortium, which includes several other institutions, Byrd was part of a study that dramatically expanded the number of DNA specimens under review. "There may be other genes like ABCA7 that are associated with the disease," Byrd said.

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