Black History 365: Lenora Higginbotham, MD

Lenora Higginbotham, MD, is senior associate in the Department of Neurology at Emory in Atlanta, Georgia and a 2018 Edmond J. Safra Fellowship graduate. From her own personal connection to Parkinson’s, she deeply understands the value of diversity in research to truly grasp disease variability. Dr. Higginbotham’s care for her grandmother, Ruby “Mamere” Higginbotham, sparked her professional curiosity, but also her work to raise awareness for neurological disorders in minority communities:

“As a movement disorder specialist working with minority populations through diversity programs, it’s not just about bringing people into research or giving them the best care. It’s also about making sure these communities have access to information and resources. Drawing parallels from my grandmother’s experience, I’m not sure if race had to do with her delay in diagnosis, but many people in my family had no prior exposure to the disease and we just thought it was old age. Now looking back on it and hearing from minority patient experiences in delayed diagnosis, I’m not surprised.”

Clinical Research Training Scholarship in Lewy Body Diseases

Dementia with Lewy bodies (LBD) is the most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease, yet there is still no reliable diagnostic test, and many cases are either missed or misdiagnosed. LBD shares similar symptoms found in other brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and can also occur alongside these diseases. A biomarker could help distinguish LBD from these other diseases, but because of the overlap between them, such a diagnostic test will likely require three or more markers.

Dr. Higginbotham’s project will use network-based proteomics, which enables the mapping of complex biological systems, to develop a marker for LBD diagnosis.

This research is funded by The Mary E. Groff Charitable Trust, the Alzheimer’s Association, and the American Brain Foundation, in collaboration with the American Academy of Neurology. Dr. Higginbotham is a Senior Associate in Neurology at Emory University.