Legendary Women’s Basketball Coach and Alzheimer’s Advocate, Pat Summitt, passes away after 5-year battle with dementia.

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 10.00.08 AMPat Summitt is most commonly known as a legendary basketball leader—winning more games than any other coach in the history of college basketball—but she was also a leader in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Shortly after being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2011 at the age of 59, Summitt and her son Tyler founded the Pat Summit Foundation. Their goal was to “help find a cure for Alzheimer’s so that one day no family has to hear that a loved one has been diagnosed with [the] disease.”

The foundation awards grants to organizations that conduct research to treat, prevent, and ultimately cure AD, and/or provides education and awareness of the disease, it’s onset, and treatment, or services to support patients, their families and caregivers.

Today, on Tuesday, June 28, 2016, after five years of fighting Alzheimer’s disease head-on, Pat Summitt has passed away.

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 12.16.15 PM“The loss of Pat Summit to dementia of the Alzheimer type reminds us that younger individuals at the peak of their careers, and not just older retirees, are vulnerable to succumb to Alzheimer type dementia, which likely began to damage her brain 10 or more years before she became symptomatic,” said John Q. Trojanowski, MD, PhD, director of Penn’s Institute on Aging.

“Despite stepping down as Tennessee’s legendary basketball coach in 2012, a year after announcing her diagnosis, she continued to be engaged with her team which illustrates that patients living with dementia can continue to lead a meaningful and active life.”

To learn more about early-onset dementia, visit the Alzheimer’s Association.

To learn more about Alzheimer’s research and care here at Penn, visit:


Penn Medicine Researchers and Collaborators Receive Nearly $11 Million NIH Grant to Launch a New Genomics Center on Alzheimer’s disease

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 2.36.40 PMPenn Medicine’s Gerard D. Schellenberg, PhD, a professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Li-San Wang, PhD, an associate professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, along with investigators from Boston University, Case Western Reserve University, Columbia University, the University of Miami, and the University of Indiana have been awarded a $10.8 million grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) to launch their joint Coordinating Center for Genetics and Genomics of Alzheimer’s disease.

“This is an exciting opportunity to apply new technologies to improve our understanding of the biological pathways underlying this devastating disease,” said Dr. Schellenberg, quoted in a Penn Medicine News Release. “The new center will stimulate collaborations between hundreds of U.S. and international Alzheimer’s genetics researchers by aggregating and analyzing very large data sets and sharing the results. This type of global interaction is needed if we are to make progress in solving this devastating illness.”

Drs. Schellenberg and Wang are no strangers to the genetics and genomics of Alzheimer’s and related neurodegenerative diseases. This new grant is just one of the projects in their recently introduced Penn Neurodegeneration Genomics Center (PNGC) which they co-direct. Other projects include the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium (ADGC), Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project (ADSP), Consortium for Alzheimer’s Sequence Analysis (CASA), and NIA Genetics of Alzheimer’s Disease Data Storage Site (NIAGADS).

Read more:
Full Penn Medicine News Release
Feature in the Philadelphia Business Journal


CNDR Director, Virginia M.-Y. Lee, PhD receives $7.5 Million NIH Renewal Grant for Frontotemporal Dementia Research

Virginia M.-Y. Lee, PhD, MBA, professor in the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research (CNDR) at the University of Pennsylvania, has received a $7.5 Million, five-year renewal on her multidisciplinary Program Project Grant (PPG) on Frontotemporal degeneration (FTD) funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 11.57.50 AMAs explained in a recent Penn Medicine News Release, “the major goal of the Lee-led grant, which comprises years 16 to 20 of an ongoing series of clinical investigations, is to expand a Penn-based comprehensive research program studying the origins and progression of frontotemporal dementia.”

To learn more about Dr. Lee’s FTD PPG, view our Virtual Tour here:


Read the full Penn Medicine News Release here.


World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2016


WEADD-Logo-RGBToday, June 15, 2016, organizations around the world are joining in the mutual effort to promote a better understanding of elder abuse and neglect of seniors “by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect,” according to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA).

Every year an estimated 5 million older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation and experts believe that for every case reported, as many as 23 cases go unreported, explains NCEA.

By spreading awareness and increasing knowledge on elder abuse, you can help stop this vicious cycle. NCEA created a variety of guides, outreach tools, and fact sheets to share, including:


Locally, organizations in and around the Philadelphia area are doing their part to support the wellbeing of our aging community.

Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) Older Adult Protective Services

“In Philadelphia, all forms of elder abuse can be reported to PCA’s Older Adult Protective Services 24/7 by calling the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040. In fiscal year 2015 (July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015), PCA’s Older Adult Protective Services received 3,262 reports of suspected abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of older adults.”

Learn more at PCAcares.org

CARIE: Center for Advocacy for the Rights & Interests of the Elderly

CARIE’s mission is to “improve the well being, rights, and autonomy of older persons through advocacy, education, and action.” They offer a variety of resources including the “CARIE LINE” and “CARIE OnLINE” telephone and online consultation service, victim’s advocacy programs, transportation problems resolution, and help for people in nursing homes and personal care homes, to name a few.

Learn more at: www.carie.org

The Ralston Center’s Age Friendly West Philadelphia Initiative

“Ralston’s Age-Friendly West Philadelphia Initiative is a collaborative partnership of local and citywide stakeholders, convened and facilitated by Ralston Center, to create age-friendly changes in West Philadelphia.  The initiative is committed to making the physical and social environments in West Philadelphia more conducive to older adults’ health, well-being and ability to age in place.”

Learn more at: http://ralstoncenter.org/

Penn Medicine’s Town Hall Meeting on ADRD Funding Opportunities

On Wednesday, June 1, 2016, the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine’s Institute on Aging (IOA), Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research (CNDR), and Penn Translational Neuroscience Center (PTNC) co-hosted their first Town Hall Meeting, open to all interested University of Pennsylvania researchers.

The idea behind this joint effort is to increase the awareness and knowledge of the variety of available National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding opportunities relating to Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD) and the neurosciences, with many already underway here at Penn.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 2.42.49 PM“In the last five years, NIH funding [for ADRD research] increased from $450 million to
nearly $1 billion,” explained John Q. Trojanowski, MD, PhD, IOA Director and CNDR Co-Director. “People who are not working in ADRD can get involved in this field. Penn is a hotbed of aging research, but there is always room to do more.”

Back in February of this year, NIA Director, Dr. Richard Hodes, MD paid a visit to the University of Pennsylvania to hear from Penn researchers and clinicians working in the fields of aging and neuroscience as well as immunology. During this visit, Dr. Hodes addressed many questions regarding the $2 billion NIH budget increase — with more than $350 million specifically earmarked for Alzheimer’s research — which was announced just a month prior. In response, Dr. Hodes broadly recommended and stressed the importance of making any and all connections to ADRD explicitly emphasized in upcoming proposals, without being misleading.

With that in mind, the main goal of this Town Hall Meeting was to encourage and welcome more collaboration across the Perelman School of Medicine within these areas of research — particularly with those whose past research has not yet explored such topics.

John Q. Trojanowski, MD, PhD discusses the goals and benefits of the Town Hall Meeting on ADRD Funding Opportunities:


Frances E. Jensen, MD, FACP discusses Neurosciences at Penn – Opportunities Overview:


Jerry Schellenberg, PhD discusses the new Penn Neurodegeneration Genomics Center and related resources at Penn:


For more information on the Town Hall Meeting, including a list of speakers, presentations, funding opportunities, current ADRD Grants at Penn, and more, click here.