The Department of Psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, presents Thomas R. Insel, M.D., Director, National Institute of Mental Health, on February 6, 12:00pm – 1:00pm in the BRB II/III Auditorium. His topic will be “Rethinking Mental Illness.” More information at http://www.med.upenn.edu/psych/rounds.html.
President Obama has signed a funding bill containing an unprecedented $122 million increase for Alzheimer’s research, education, outreach and caregiver support.
The new federal funding allocated for Alzheimer’s disease includes a $100 million increase for the National Institute on Aging for Alzheimer’s research, which will be added to what the National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates will be $484 million in Alzheimer’s research funding across NIH in fiscal year 2013. A further $3.3 million has been provided to support Alzheimer’s caregivers, $4 million to train health professionals on issues related to Alzheimer’s disease, $10.5 million to expand the home and community based caregiver services and $4.2 million for outreach activities to raise awareness. Additionally, the National Institutes of Health’s BRAIN Initiative will receive $30 million to support brain research that could impact several diseases, including Alzheimer’s.
Acclaimed singer/songwriter Jonatha Brooke was at the Penn Memory Center recently for an interview with Jason Karlawish, MD for our Making Sense of Alzheimer’s disease project. Jonatha has a new musical play – My Mother Has Four Noses (#4noses)- opening on February 14 at the Duke on 42nd Street theater in NYC.
Her one-woman show weaves story and song together to tell the experiences of caring for her mother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, during the final two years of her life. Click here to see her post on Facebook after her interview with Dr. Karlawish.
AARP’s radio production, the 2 Boomer Babes Radio Hour, is a weekly feature that highlights a variety of issues relevant to the boomer generation, with discussion topics ranging from caretaking of elderly parents, to health, popular culture, and relationships. Hosts Kathy Bernard and Barbara Kline recently produced several segments on Alzheimer’s disease including interviews with Jason Karlawish, MD, Associate Director of the Penn Memory Center, on the November 10 and December 29 programs. Listen to these and other Boomer shows here.
United States House and Senate negotiators unveiled an “omnibus” bill to fund the federal government that includes $122 million in additional Alzheimer’s funding, the largest-ever increase in federal funding for Alzheimer’s research and care programs. Learn more about how you can encourage passage of the bill at the Alzheimer’s Association.
The January 14, 2014 issue of the Philadelphia Tribune features a story on Raymond W. Holman, Jr.’s “Portraits of Alzheimer’s Caregivers” exhibit on display at the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine through February. Reporter Ayana Jones interviewed Dr. Jason Karlawish, Associate Director of the Penn Memory Center, about the exhibit.
“We heard about (Mr. Holman’s) work from coverage in other media,” Dr. Karlawish said. “We were deeply intrigued because it’s great art that is very relevant to our mission, which is making sense of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and related disorders,” he added. “We are particularly impressed and excited that he focused on people who are often underrepresented and underappreciated in the world of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia – namely individuals of African American ancestry and people who are working and living in a caregiving role.”
Read the full article in the Philadelphia Tribune here.
In an effort to develop a coordinated and collaborative approach to the development of dementia research studies and treatments, the UK hosted a G8 summit on dementia on December 11, 2013 in London. The gathering of health and science officials, researchers, pharmaceutical companies and senior industry figures aimed to identify an international approach to dementia research and policy. Topics included improving the quality of life for people affected by dementia; improving the prevention and treatment of dementia; and developing ways to stimulate greater investment and innovation in dementia research.
The summit was broadcast live via the G8 Dementia webpage here.
The Group of Eight (G8) is a forum for the governments of eight of the world’s largest national economies and includes the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia.
Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have found that available evidence does not support an association between statins and memory loss or dementia. The new study, a collaborative effort between faculty in Penn Medicine’s Preventive Cardiovascular Program, the Penn Memory Center, and the Penn Center for Evidence-Based Practice, will be published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
The research team conducted a systematic review of the published literature and identified 57 statin studies reporting measures of cognitive function. Senior study author Emil deGoma, MD, assistant professor of Medicine and medical director of the Preventive Cardiovascular Program at Penn. and colleagues found no evidence of an increased risk of dementia with statin therapy. In fact, in cohort studies, statin users had a 13 percent lower risk of dementia, a 21 percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and a 34 percent lower risk of mild cognitive impairment compared to people who did not take statins. Cognitive test scores were not adversely affected by statin treatment in randomized controlled trials.
“Overall, these findings are quite reassuring. I wouldn’t let concerns about adverse effects on cognition influence the decision to start a statin in patients suffering from atherosclerotic disease or at risk for cardiovascular disease. I also wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that statins are the culprit when an individual who is taking a statin describes forgetfulness. We may be doing more harm than good if we withhold or stop statins – medications proven to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke – due to fears that statins might possibly cause memory loss,” said Dr. deGoma.
To read more, click here.
Jason Karlawish, M.D., Associate Director of the Penn Memory Center, is quoted in the December 10, 2013 issue of Scientific American. The article, How Brain Scans Might Change the Way Doctors Diagnose Alzheimer’s, discusses the development over the past 10 years of sophisticated brain scans that can estimate the amount of plaque in the brain, and an upcoming clinical trial that will investigate whether giving an experimental drug as soon as the scans detect the formation of plaques can slow or halt the development of Alzheimer’s. That trial, the A4 Study, aims to screen 3,000 healthy senior citizens to identify 1,000 amyloid-positive individuals who will receive either a drug therapy for Alzheimer’s called solanezumab or a placebo for three years. The Penn Memory Center is one of the 60 sites where the study will take place. To read the full Scientific American article, click here.
The online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, reports that speaking a second language may delay the onset of certain types of dementias.
The study found that people who spoke two languages developed dementia four and a half years later than people who only spoke one language.
“Our study is the first to report an advantage of speaking two languages in people who are unable to read, suggesting that a person’s level of education is not a sufficient explanation for this difference,” said study author Suvarna Alladi, DM, with Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad, India.
“Speaking more than one language is thought to lead to better development of the areas of the brain that handle executive functions and attention tasks, which may help protect from the onset of dementia.”
Read more at Neurology®.