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Alzheimer’s Revisited: A Fresh 360-degree View on Sex and Gender Differences in AD

By: , Posted on: August 23, 2021

The Women’s Brain Project (WBP) is proud to announce its latest work, the publication of the book Sex and Gender Differences in Alzheimer’s Disease as part of its collaboration with Elsevier.

Dr Rhoda Au, Director of Neuropsychology at Framingham Heart Study, Boston University School of Medicine, United States, says,

“Brain related differences between women and men have been well known.  For example, greater survival to older age alone cannot account for the increase number of women with Alzheimer’s disease compared to men.  This book illuminates the multi-dimensional ways and factors that can account for some of these sex/gender differences.  The importance of understanding those specific to women has significant implications given the central role that women play in the health and healthcare ecosystem. A fully functioning woman’s brain means a healthier family circle.”

The Women’s Brain Project: Putting Sex and Gender in Brain and Mental Health on the Map

The official mission of the organization is to work on sex and gender determinants of brain and mental health as the gateway to precision medicine.

To non-scientists or policymakers, this may sound like technical jargon, but the truth is it’s about making science and medicine accessible, more accurate, and adapted to both men and women’s needs. This includes the socioeconomic and cultural contexts, which historically have often ignored women’s symptoms or failed to diagnose them accurately.

In the words of Lukas Engelberger, Head of the Public Health Department of the Canton Basel-Stadt in Switzerland, “It is still the case in medical research today that women are given too little attention. Many research projects are androcentric and do not take sex and gender differences into account.”

However, the organization isn’t just about women. It is about improving science and medicine for all of society, making it more inclusive, efficient, and human by harnessing all the tools available including artificial intelligence (AI) and novel technologies alongside gender transformative policies.

So, whether you’re a woman suffering from symptoms yet to be taken seriously or from chronic migraines, a policymaker interested in mental health, a scientist working on clinical trials, or a businessperson with a family member diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, WBP has something for you.

The latest achievement of WBP is the publication of a first book in a series done in collaboration with Elsevier, Sex and Gender Differences in Alzheimer’s Disease.

“We have been pioneers in the field of sex and gender differences in Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases since we first published our work in 2018,” says Antonella Santuccione Chadha, co-founder and CEO of WBP. “Since then, scientists around the globe have responded to our call to study sex and gender differences in Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases. This book is a collection of the evidence-based views of world renown experts on this not yet addressed scientific perspective. Its content will serve as the fundament to revolutionize the way we develop treatment for Alzheimer’s and brain diseases. Now it is time to move from patient differences to patient characteristics to achieve precision medicine. Ad maiora*”

Why Does Alzheimer’s Matter?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 50 million people live with dementia worldwide, with an additional 10 million new cases each year. In 2015, the global societal cost of dementia was estimated at USD 818 billion, or 1.1% of global gross domestic product (GDP).

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, accounting for approximately 60-70% of cases.

Eleven million people are estimated to be living with Alzheimer’s in Europe, and in 2015 this led to an estimated cost of USD 300 billion.

In the US alone, more than 6 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s, of which 72% are over 75 years of age. Two thirds of these cases are women.

Eleven million Americans, most often family and friends provide unpaid care to those living with Alzheimer’s, which is estimated to be worth 256.7 billion dollars. Two thirds of caregivers are women, of which a third are daughters.

In other words, Alzheimer’s matters because of everything from the impact it has on individuals and families to its cost – financial and other – to society.

The Book “Sex and Gender Differences in Alzheimer’s Disease”

Out on Monday 2 August 2021, Sex and Gender Differences in Alzheimer’s Disease offers, for the first time, a 360-degree view on the topic of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and its possible implications by combining the knowledge and points-of-view of neuroscientists, medical doctors, psychologists, AI experts, and more.

“Women’s Brain Project brings together up-to-date supportive findings from a variety of experts, covering basic neuroscience, epidemiology, diagnosis, treatment, clinical trials development and social and psychological support,” said Maria Teresa Ferretti, co-founder and chief scientific officer of Women’s Brain Project.

It presents a critical overview of the evidence documenting sex and gender differences in AD neurobiology, biomarkers, clinical presentation, treatment, clinical trials and their outcomes as well as its impact on caregivers. This knowledge is crucial for clinical development, digital health solutions, as well as social and psychological support to AD families in the frame of a precision medicine approach in AD.

Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, remains an unmet medical need worldwide. Wide interpersonal variability in disease onset, presentation, and biomarker profile make AD a clinical challenge to neuroscientists, clinicians, and drug developers alike, resulting in huge management costs for society and health systems.

Not only do women represent the majority of AD patients, but they also represent two thirds of caregivers. Understanding sex and gender differences in various aspects of AD will lead to novel insights into disease mechanisms, and will be crucial for personalized disease management strategies and solution, involving both the patient and their family.

According to Annemarie Schumacher Dimech, co-founder and President of WBP, “This book covers a wide range of topics spanning from basic science, drug development, therapy all the way to caregiving, policy and ethics. Due to its comprehensive discussion about women and sex and gender differences in Alzheimer’s Disease, this book provides an excellent foundation for anyone interested in or working in this field. I also think this is a great read for students aspiring to work in research or practice related to Alzheimer’s Disease.”

A Closer Look at the Content  

Book Title: “Sex & Gender Differences in Alzheimer’s Disease”

Editors: Maria Teresa Ferretti, Annemarie Schumacher Dimech, Antonella Santuccione-Chadha

Publisher: Elsevier

Audience: Advanced graduate students, researchers, scientists, healthcare providers, policymakers, doctors, nurses, neuropsychologists, psychologists, diagnostic, digital technology developers, and clinicians in the fields of neurodegeneration, neuroscience, neurology, and neuropharmacology.

The book is structured in three sections that have three, eight, and five chapters respectively, each with up to twenty sub-chapters (see book architecture below). Each chapter presents limitations, conclusions, and chapter highlights.

Penned by a diverse group of experts, topics range from more technical and with a narrower focused, such as “Sex and sex hormone differentiation in hippocampal neurogenesis and relevance to AD”, to broader reaching content, such as “Gender barriers to communication in AD”.

Book Architecture

To give you a better sense of the content of the book, below you can find the book architecture. Note that it does not include the full list of sub-chapters.

Sex & Gender Differences in Alzheimer’s Disease


Table of Contents




Editors’ biographies


I. Sex differences in fundamental neurobiological processes relevant to Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Chapter 1: Sex differences in AD animal models
  • Chapter 2: Sex and sex hormone differentiation in hippocampal neurogenesis and relevance to AD
  • Chapter 3: Sex differences in microglia as risk factors to AD

II. Sex and gender differences in clinical aspects of AD

  • Chapter 4: Sex differences in Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers of AD
  • Chapter 5: Sex differences in neuroimaging biomarkers in healthy subjects and dementia
  • Chapter 6: Sex and gender differences in neuropsychological symptoms for clinical diagnosis of AD
  • Chapter 7: Sex differences in psychiatric disorders and their implication for dementia
  • Chapter 8: Sleep disorders and dementia
  • Chapter 9: Hormones and dementia
  • Chapter 10: Sex and gender differences in genetic and lifestyle risk and protective factors for dementia
  • Chapter 11: Sex and gender considerations in clinical trials for AD: Current state and recommendations

III. Gender differences in socioeconomic factors linked to AD

  • Chapter 12: Gender and socioeconomic differences in modifiable risk factors for AD and other types of dementia throughout the life course
  • Chapter 13: Living with dementia and caregiving: Psychosocial considerations through the gender lens
  • Chapter 14: Sex and gender differences in caregiving patterns and caregivers’ needs
  • Chapter 15: Gender barriers to communication in AD
  • Chapter 16: Women and dementia policy: Redressing imbalance through gender transformative policies

If you are interested in obtaining a copy of the book, you can order it here. Proceeds go to further fund WBP’s work.

If you have questions about the book, would be interested in inviting WBP to give a talk at your workplace or be a part of a panel, or are interested in collaborating with WBP on a particular project, please reach out to

If you have any comments or questions about the above, don’t hesitate to leave a note below or reach out to WBP on social media @womensbrainpro.


*Ad Maiora is latin for “Towards greater things”

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The scientific study of the nervous system is entering a new golden age. Researchers and clinicians continue to advance the treatment of conditions such as Alzheimer’s syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury. Public initiatives like the federal Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) program in the United States, announced in April 2013, ensure that funding and resources will continue to be applied to this rapidly growing field. Elsevier’s journals, books, eBooks, online references, and tools are respected around the world for everything from physiology and pathology to behavioral genetics and nerve repair. Our publications are a gateway to the latest advancements in neuroscience research and leading-edge data for professionals, students, and academics alike.