By Cait Kearney
After a three-year hiatus, the Penn Memory Center (PMC) Research Participant Thank You Luncheon was held in May to recognize the dedication and efforts of PMC research participants and their study partners.
“Without you all, we wouldn’t be here today,” PMC Co-Director Jason Karlawish, MD, told the audience in his opening remarks. “All of you should feel like this is a celebration of the work you did because being in research is work.”
Over 200 people attended the event, held at the Sheraton Hotel in University City.
“We left feeling hopeful, knowledgeable, and well taken care of in this difficult journey,” said Susan Henderson, research study partner.
PMC Co-Director David Wolk, MD, delivered the event’s keynote address. Dr. Wolk highlighted key research advancements from the past five years, such as emerging Alzheimer’s disease (AD) blood tests and disease-modifying medicines.
“We are entering a new era in this disease,” Dr. Wolk said.
PMC research participants undergo a plethora of testing, from brain scans to neurological assessments to blood collection. They provide the center with a detailed medical history and answer questions about the events and conditions from the course of their lives, like educational background and early childhood experiences.
Dr. Wolk emphasized that this abundance of data helps researchers to determine the biology of the disease and develop therapies.
“Ultimately, we want to learn who is going to best benefit from a drug and who’s not,” said Dr. Wolk.
PMC Executive Director Felicia Greenfield, LCSW, MSW, spoke about PMC’s social services and programming opportunities.
“We want people to live more fully, meaningfully, and with dignity,” Greenfield said.
PMC’s new offering the Caring Collective, a peer mentorship program designed to support new caregivers, was a feature of Greenfield’s talk.
Director of Clinical Research Sanjeev Vaishnavi, MD, PhD, reviewed the history of AD and provided updates on PMC’s various clinical trials.
The event wrapped up with a question-and-answer session with PMC leaders.
“It was a great sharing and leaning session for everyone,” said Henderson.