Starting last week (April 23), the New York Academy of Sciences began airing weekly episodes of the new podcast series, Dementia Decoded. Sponsored by the Dana Foundation, the five-part program aims to educate the public on topics such as the history of Alzheimer’s disease, prevention, risk reduction, diagnosis, and care. The episodes also feature different specialists in the field, including our very own Dana Alliance members: Richard Mayeux, M.D., Reisa Sperling, M.D., and Rudolph Tanzi, Ph.D. (Tanzi was just acknowledged by TIME Magazine as one of the world’s top influential figures of the year for his work on finding a cure for Alzheimer’s.)
Last week, Time Magazine published its annual list of the world’s most influential pioneers. We are pleased to announce that Dana Alliance member, Rudolph Tanzi, Ph.D., has been deemed a “TIME 100” honoree for his leading research on finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
Tanzi currently serves as Chair of the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund Research Consortium, Professor of Neurology at Harvard University, and director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, as well as head of the Alzheimer’s Genome Project.
As part of Brain Awareness Week, the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives (DABI) co-hosted its annual Staying Sharp program with NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City on Tuesday afternoon. Before diving into a panel discussion on memory, aging, and brain health, professional trainer Linda Meyer took the stage to warm up the audience—literally. Meyer used a combination of physical exercise, fun tunes, and brain teasers to warm up our minds and focus our attention. She emphasized how small changes can impact our attention and ability to engage.
To get everyone on the same page, neurologist Martin Sadowski started the panel discussion with a New York-inspired explanation of Alzheimer’s disease. Imagine New York City after a few days of heavy snow: The sanitation department has been busy plowing, so an abundance of garbage litters the sidewalk. Fortunately, the snow eventually melts, and sanitation can get back to their normal routine. Now imagine the city got rid of the sanitation department, and let heaps of trash accumulate unfettered; in a few years it would be absolutely impossible to walk down the streets or sidewalks.
Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to witness people documenting their daily rituals—the food they’re eating, the clothes they’re wearing, who they’re with, or where they’re going. At times it feels as though the public is obsessed with preserving these seemingly insignificant moments, as if it’s crucial that not a single detail is forgotten. But for the increasingly large number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, this obsession with remembrance is a routine that signifies their cognitive descent. With the number of cases escalating, public awareness is essential to build support for more research to develop treatments and identify preventive steps.
Within five days of its release, the movie Still Alice has already been nominated for eight awards for its portrayal of a family that is forced to confront this deadly disease. In the film, Julianne Moore depicts an acclaimed professor of linguistics at Columbia University who is diagnosed with familial, early-onset Alzheimer’s. Based on the bestselling novel by neuroscientist Lisa Genova, Still Alice offers a window into the tragic reality of what it’s like to knowingly face a disease that, as of yet, has no cure. With her husband (played by Alec Baldwin) working as a medical researcher, the characters are able to shed some light on the scientific details of early-onset Alzheimer’s when speaking with Alice’s neurologist; but it’s done in a way so as not to overwhelm the audience with technical language.